Can Dogs and Cats Get Ebola?

Cats Dogs
Ebola Virus Creative Commons license Credit: NIAID Over the fall, news outlets and regular people alike seemed gripped by the idea of a terrifying global Ebola outbreak. While recent trends in the disease seem to hint that the fear may have been a bit over the top, a renewed focus on this relatively rare disease did raise plenty of interesting questions. For example, is it possible for your pets to carry the disease and spread its infection? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the answer is “yes,” but only in rare cases. According to the existing data on Ebola, animals have a very low risk of contracting Ebola. The CDC was also careful to explain that there have been no confirmed reports that dogs can carry or transmit the Ebola virus to other animals -- humans included. Even in regions with astronomically high rates of infection, no documented case has ever been discovered where the virus jumped from humans to cats or dogs. Organizations leading the charge in the world Ebola response have tried to stress that the risk of an outbreak in the United States is very low, and that people should avoid panicking or taking extreme measures to protect themselves. The primary method of infection with Ebola is coming into contact with blood or other bodily fluids. No research has been done to confirm whether the virus can be transferred from the paws, fur, or body of pets. However, the CDC does recommend that animals be kept away from Ebola-infected patients: “CDC recommends that public health officials in collaboration with a veterinarian evaluate the pet's risk of exposure to the virus (close contact or exposure to blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient). Based on this evaluation as well as the specific situation, local and state human and animal health officials will determine how the pet should be handled.” In other words, your dog probably doesn’t have Ebola. As long as you’re not feeding him blood, he should be fine.

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*Results may vary based on factors such as age, size and physical condition of your pet.