The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a warning cautioning those with monkeypox to refrain from exposing themselves to animals following the discovery of the first instance of human-to-dog transmission.
The medical journal, The Lancet, published a study on the first instance of monkeypox being transmitted from a dog to a human being last week.
The WHO’s technical lead for monkeypox, Rosamund Lewis, noted that the case involved two men and an Italian greyhound who shared an apartment in Paris.
“This is the first case reported of human-to-animal transmission… and we believe it is the first instance of a canine being infected,” Lewis said.
She added that public health organisations had already been recommending persons suffering from the disease to “isolate from their pets” notwithstanding the theoretical chance that such a transfer could occur.
In order to reduce the potential of contaminating rats and other creatures outside the home, she added that “waste management is crucial”.
Concern that viruses might change dangerously is frequently raised when they cross the species barrier. Lewis highlighted that there have been no reports of monkeypox outbreaks thus far.
She did, however, concede that “there is clearly a probability that the virus will develop differently and mutate differently as soon as it gets into a different setting in a different population.”
The primary issue is with animals that are not inside the home. “The more dangerous situation… is where a virus can move into a small mammal population with high density of animals.
It is through the process of one animal infecting the next and the next and the next that you see rapid evolution of the virus,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said.
The UN health agency is encouraging all nations to do more to stop the spread, including making sure at-risk populations have access to services and information about the risks and how to protect themselves, given that the number of cases worldwide has increased by 20 per cent just in the last week.