The recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa has raised several questions about how the disease affects animals, particularly household pets. Although there is evidence to suggest that several animals may be susceptible to EVD, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with EVD or spreading it to people or other animals. NSW Health and the NSW Department of Primary Industries consider the risk of EVD for pets in NSW to be very low.
Fruit bats in Africa are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus and animals such as apes, monkeys or antelope catch the infection from bats. When humans become infected by touching or eating infected animals, the virus can then pass from person to person causing an outbreak. Animals have not been found to be involved in the spread of outbreaks. Fruit bats in Australia are not known to carry the Ebola virus.
EVD is spread from person to person via direct contact with blood, secretions or other bodily fluids of infected people, and contact with environments that may be contaminated with such fluids, including healthcare settings. EVD is spread from person to person via direct contact with blood, secretions or other bodily fluids of infected people, and contact with environments that may be contaminated with such fluids, including healthcare settings.
To date, there have been no reports of cats or dogs becoming sick with EVD or transmitting it to other animals or humans. There is limited evidence to suggest that dogs can become infected with EVD, but there is currently no evidence to demonstrate that they develop symptoms of the disease .
At this time there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with EVD or transmitting the virus to humans. The chances of a dog or cat becoming exposed to EVD is very low in NSW, as the animal would have to come into contact with the bodily fluids of a person sick with EVD who is experiencing symptoms and there have been no people diagnosed with EVD in Australia.
Local public health staff in collaboration with veterinarians from the Department of Primary Industries will assess the pet’s risk of exposure to the virus from household members i.e. whether the pet has had close contact with an infected person and/or contact with their bodily fluids after they developed symptoms.
Based on this risk assessment, local public health and animal health staff will determine how the pet should be managed. This may include the need for the pet to be placed in quarantine for a period of 21 days.
There is no reason to test a dog or cat for EVD unless there is a known exposure to an infected person.
For further information please call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.