Rodent pets across the UK could be culled to prevent the spread of monkeypox disease, reports suggest. Experts say you should stay away from animals if you have monkeypox and if the pets cannot be isolated euthanasia is another option
There are fears that if monkeypox gets into the UK’s pet and wild animal populations it will become endemic – meaning animals could then easily spread it back to humans.
A report from the European Centre for Disease Control says pets of people with monkeypox should be isolated, adding: “Rodent pets should ideally be isolated in monitored facilities, complying with respiratory isolation (eg. a laboratory) and animal welfare conditions (e.g. government facilities, kennels or animal welfare organisations), and tested (by PCR) for exposure before quarantine ends.
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“Euthanasia should only be a last resort reserved to situations where testing and/or isolation are not feasible.”
Dr Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, told the Telegraph: “No cases of monkeypox have ever been suspected or reported in pets in the UK and the risk remains low. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with veterinary and public health colleagues, both in the UK and across the world, to manage the animal health associated risks with monkeypox.”
Professor David Robertson, of the Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, revealed in the Telegraph that although the threat of monkeypox jumping from humans to pets to wildlife is low, it is a “valid concern”.
“Rabbits and mice would be ones to watch, as they’re likely to be kept as pets,” he said. “This virus does have quite a wide host range which is always worrying in terms of potential to establish in a new host species… it would seem sensible to monitor any animals/pets that infected people are in contact with.”