Tag Archives: transmit

Ebola: Can dogs transmit the virus?

iStock_000011963680LargeRecently, there’s been a lot in the news about Ebola and dogs- particularly, about a dog in Spain named Excalibur, who was euthanized on Wednesday, October 8th. Excalibur was the family pet of a nurse’s assistant who is currently being treated after contracting the virus. The question: can dogs carry and transmit the virus?

Wild animals are certainly capable of carrying and transmitting the virus. The World Health Organization recognizes that Ebola is transmitted to people from wild animals, and fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus. Infection has been documented in wild bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, and porcupines. However, there are no conclusive studies showing that dogs can transmit Ebola to humans. But there also aren’t any conclusive studies showing that dogs don’t pose a risk, either.

During the 2001-02 Ebola outbreak in Gabon, dogs were exposed to Ebola from eating dead animals that had been infected with the disease. Researchers took blood samples from over 400 dogs, and results suggested that dogs could be infected by Ebola and potentially remain asymptomatic. It’s possible that viral particles could be excreted in urine, feces, and saliva (as has been seen in other animals), potentially putting humans at risk of contracting the virus. But again, no concrete answers. This study shows that the dogs were exposed to the virus and their immune systems responded to it, but it still doesn’t tell us whether or not dogs that have encountered Ebola can shed the virus or not. 

Without conducting specific research into canine infection, at this point, the short answer is that researchers really aren’t sure whether or not dogs can transmit the virus to humans. The decision to euthanize Excalibur has evoked strong emotions and responses, and rightly so. Many are outraged at Excalibur’s death. Some argue that he should have been quarantined and tested to determine whether or not he was a risk to the human population; others are taking the “better safe than sorry” approach. What do YOU think? Should Excalibur have been euthanized? How should companion animals be handled if their owners contract the virus? We’d love to hear your thoughts- please post below.

Lyme Disease vaccinations- but they’re not for you…

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERALyme Disease is a tick-borne illness that affects over 300,000 people in the United States alone each year. Infected blacklegged ticks can transmit the disease to humans. Lyme Disease is no joke; untreated infections can damage the heart, joints, and nervous system. And although many people think that deer are the main cause of the spread of the disease (blacklegged ticks are commonly called deer ticks), the most common carrier of Lyme Disease is the white-footed mouse.

Currently, there are no human vaccines for Lyme Disease. So researchers are trying to tackle the problem in a different way- by vaccinating mice! They developed an oral vaccine, mixed it into an oatmeal pellet, and baited plots of land with these pellets. The theory is that ticks feeding on vaccinated mice would ingest the antibodies made in the mouse’s body, thus killing any bacteria carried by the ticks, and preventing them from transmitting the disease to humans. And it works- researchers saw a 76% decrease in infected ticks on the treated plots of land.

Right now, scientists are working on USDA approval for the vaccine pellets. If approved, hopefully this will make a big difference in reducing the number of cases of Lyme Disease in humans- and as an added bonus, it won’t hurt the animals or the environment!

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25168-mouse-vaccine-could-protect-humans-from-lyme-disease.html#.UyYkBPldWSo