Ebola Virus and Our Dogs
The Ebola virus is a present epidemic, affecting not only humans, but also animals.
Cari Jorgensen |
Posted: August 6, 2014, 2:00 p.m. EDT
The news has been full of reported Ebola virus cases. As of July 31, 2014, there have been 1,323 cases, 932 of which have died, according to the World Health Organization. This means that this outbreak of the Ebola virus has an extremely high fatality rate. Although rare in the United States, the virus’s prevalence elsewhere is astonishing, the fatality rate frightening, and it seems to spread at alarming rates.
What is Ebola?
The Ebola virus, first discovered in Central Africa in 1976, is a hemorrhagic fever caused by a group of viruses, meaning once contracted, the victim bleeds internally and externally. The virus has an eight to 21-day incubation period, with early symptoms presenting as headaches, muscle weakness, fever and sore throat. Once the disease progresses, the victim’s kidney and liver functions become impaired and the victim experiences bleeding both inside and outside the body. The virus has a 50 to 90 percent fatality rate, and there is no cure.
How is Ebola Transmitted?
The blessing is that the virus is not airborne. However, it is easily transmitted through blood, tissue and body fluids. The victim is only contagious once symptoms appear.
What about our Animals?
As of the writing of this article, the virus has been detected in monkeys, chimpanzees, rodents, pigs, fruit bats, gorillas, porcupines and dogs. Of these, primates seem to be the most susceptible to contracting the virus. They often eat the fruit the bats eat, kill and eat the fruit bats or eat meat from infected animals.
It is believed that fruit bats are responsible for the introduction of the Ebola virus. Dr. David Sanders of Purdue University told Discovery News, "In general, Ebola researchers think that the natural host of Ebola virus are fruit bats, and that the virus is transmitted to non-human primates and then to humans through the bush meat trade.”
Dogs can easily contract the virus if they are exposed to the contaminated meat or fluids of infected animals.
According to a study conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "dogs can be infected by Ebola virus and…the putative infection is asymptomatic.” In other words, dogs can get Ebola and not show symptoms. This, along with the fact that Ebola is an epidemic with no vaccine, has led researchers to question what other animals could be infected.
To date, there has been no link between human Ebola infections and those found in dogs.
Veterinarians in Egypt are urging screenings of all animals to detect or rule out Ebola. Other veterinarians, such as Dr. Ronald Harty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is working with his team to develop "compounds that could reduce the ability of a virus, including Ebola, to spread,” according to CBS Local.
In the meantime, Sanders and his colleagues are working to determine what other animals the virus could impact.
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