Can pets spread Ebola? Learn all the facts about how Ebola may affect your pets!

The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has caused major concern and worry, leaving thousands dead. The outbreak was initially confined to rural areas but has now started to appear in urban areas too. People are not just concerned about how Ebola will affect them but are also raising questions whether this ongoing epidemic will affect their animals, in particular household pets. Can dogs and cats catch or spread Ebola? Here are the facts about how Ebola may affect your pets.

1. How is the Ebola virus spread?

The Ebola virus is transmitted to people from contact with infected wild animals such bats, monkeys, apes, chimpanzees, gorillas, porcupines and forest antelope. It is then spread by direct contact with bodily fluids (saliva, sweat, vomit, urine, feces, breast milk or semen) or blood of an infected person. The risk of infection increases if you touch or handle objects or surfaces which have contaminated by an infected person’s bodily fluids.  This virus CANNOT be transmitted through casual contact – in other words, if someone who has been infected with Ebola sits next to you, you will not be at risk of developing the disease. It is also not spread through the air, food or water. However, Ebola may be transmitted as a result of eating or handling bush meat as well as contact with infected bats.  According to scientists, in this ongoing Ebola epidemic, animals have not been found to be a factor in the transmission of the virus
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2. What are the symptoms of Ebola?

These symptoms of Ebola start quite suddenly – between 2 to 21 days is the incubation period of the disease. During this period, you are carrying the Ebola infection without displaying any symptoms of illness.

The first symptoms of Ebola that are experienced include a fever, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, sore throat and a general feeling of weakness. These symptoms are followed by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, abdominal pain, impaired kidney and liver functioning and accompanied with Ebola’s most prominent feature of bleeding. The infected person bleeds internally and may also bleed from the ears, eyes, nose and mouth.
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3. Can our pets become infected with Ebola?

There have been no reports of dogs and cats being infected with the Ebola virus, even with the current outbreak of the disease in West Africa. As yet, there is also no evidence to support that dogs and cats develop this disease and are able to spread it to humans and other animals.
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4. Can my dog or cat infect me with Ebola?

As there are no reports at present of dogs and cats becoming infected with Ebola or spreading it to humans or other animals, the likelihood of your pet being exposed to the virus in South Africa is very low. Your dog or cat would have to be exposed to a person infected with the Ebola virus, and then transmit it to you.
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5. Is a pet at risk in the home of an Ebola patient?

If there is an Ebola patient in the area, it is recommended that public health officials in association with a veterinarian assess the animal’s risk of exposure to the virus. Once an evaluation of the situation is determined, the necessary measures and precautions can be instituted.
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6. Can my pet’s fur, body or paws spread Ebola to people or animals?

It has not been established whether a pet’s fur, body or paws can become infected and spread the virus to people and other animals. However, as we do not yet know all the facts about the Ebola virus, it is IMPORTANT to keep people and animals away from the body fluids and blood of a person infected with the virus.
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7. Should I be worried if my pet is a monkey?

Monkeys are one of the animals at risk for developing Ebola. They should not be allowed to have contact with anyone who has been infected with the virus. Common symptoms of Ebola that present in monkeys include fever, loss of appetite and sudden death. If you have a healthy monkey living in South Africa and he has not been exposed to a person infected with Ebola, then there is no risk of spreading the virus.
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8. How to prevent the spread of Ebola?

It is very important to take strict precautions to prevent and control the spread of the Ebola virus. Areas affected by an outbreak should be quarantined and patients isolated immediately. Keep yourself and your pets safe by:
Washing hands frequently and thoroughly using lots of soap and water as this destroys the virus. Use alcohol rub if soap is not available.
Avoid physical contact with anyone who may be infected with the Ebola virus – this applies to your pets too!
A strong immune system is the best defence against attack from any virus, including Ebola. Feelgood Health Pets has a natural immune boosting remedy called Immunity & Liver Support, which helps to support your pet’s immune system and protect it against infection. 
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9. Can my dog or cat get tested for Ebola?

If your dog or cat has not been exposed to a person infected Ebola, it would not be necessary to test them for the disease. Routine testing for Ebola for pets is currently not available.
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