Local vet discusses possibility of animal to human Ebola transmission

Posted at 11:04 PM, Oct 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-15 23:22:35-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- A veterinarian is hoping to set the public at ease after reports that a dog was quarantined and another was euthanized after their owners tested positive for Ebola.

The dog that was euthanized was from Spain. The other that was placed in isolation belongs to a Texas nurse who got the virus after treating a patient.

Dr. Randall Carpenter, a veterinarian with Family and Friends Veterinary Hospital, said a study done in Africa showed 25 to 33 percent of dogs tested positive for antibodies against the virus.

"What that really means is the pets were exposed to Ebola virus. They recognized it as a bad thing and they built up antibodies against it," Dr. Carpenter said. "Pets do not get Ebola. They can't be infected. They will not be sick from Ebola."

Dr. Carpenter said while humans can't become infected through a pet's secretions, there's a catch.

"The only way that pet could be a potential complication would be if it had come in direct contact--its body--with secretions from an Ebola Positive patient,"Dr. Carpenter said.

For instance, if those secretions got onto a dog's fur and someone pet the dog they could become exposed to the virus.

Dr. Carpenter said CDC guidelines are to quarantine the animal, adding that euthanizing a pet is extreme.

He said dogs and casts have viruses of their own that can cause symptoms similar to the virus.

"If you have a dog or cat that's critically ill, it's not going to be Ebola," he said. "It probably is another virus that they have that is species specific."

According to the CDC, only mammals like humans, bats, monkeys and apes have the ability to become infected and spread the virus.