When a person is infected with the monkeypox virus, they must avoid contact with their pet as much as possible, recommends the National Health Security Agency (Anses). Following the increase in the number of people infected with this virus in many countries outside endemic African areas, including France, ANSES received an urgent request on the issue of its transmission to pets.
In the state of knowledge, lagomorphs, such as rabbits or hares, are receptive and sensitive under experimental conditions, in particular rabbits.
The sciurids, including squirrels and prairie dogs, seem to constitute a receptive and sensitive family, possibly the most at risk of contamination by humans. However, the possession and sale of these animals is not authorized in France.
Pet rodents, such as brown rats, mice, guinea pigs or even hamsters, seem to be not very receptive to the virus in adulthood but could be so for the youngest animals.
Data are lacking for ferrets and dogs. Concerning cats, only one serological study exists with negative results. At this stage, no clinical cases have been reported in these three species.
In view of these data, when a person is infected with the monkeypox virus, ANSES recommends “avoiding contact between the animal and the infected person as much as possible, ideally by having the animal looked after by a another person during the time of isolation”. And, “before each contact with your animal”, she advises to “wash your hands, then wear gloves and a single-use mask”.
Pending additional data on the sensitivity and receptivity of pets, “the greatest vigilance” is also recommended to veterinarians receiving in consultation animals whose owner is symptomatic.
By the end of 2022, new expertise will complete these initial elements. It will focus on the assessment of the risks of transmission of the virus to peridomestic fauna (particularly rodents). An assessment of the risk of virus importation by infected animals will also be carried out.