WSVMA helping veterinarians talk with clients about Ebola and their pets

It is nearly impossible to read, watch, or listen to the daily news without coming across mention of the Ebola virus, which is dominating media coverage across the world.

Fears over Ebola were previously confined mostly to humans, but pets have been pulled into the conversation after a Spanish Ebola patient's dog was euthanized on Oct. 8 due to concerns of the animal potentially harboring and transmitting the disease.

The euthanization prompted a widely publicized protest from animal rights activists trying to save the dog named Excalibur, but also raised questions about whether pets are capable of transmitting the deadly virus.

Because animal hospitals might begin receiving questions about Ebola from concerned pet owners due to increasing news coverage, the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association (WSVMA) announced that it has worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control to develop some talking points addressing the risk of contracting the virus from pets. 

The talking points from the WSVMA include:

  • There is no evidence that pets become sick with Ebola from routine contact with people who are infected with the virus.
  • There is no evidence that pets can transmit Ebola to humans through routine contact.
  • We do suggest that, in the rare instance that a pet is determined to be potentially exposed, the pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian in consultation with the State Public Health Veterinarian and Local Public Health.
  • A potentially exposed pet should have limited contact with people for a minimum of three weeks from the time of potential exposure to the virus.
  • CDC is working with the American Veterinary Medical Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop more specific guidance for pet owners and veterinarians.

The AVMA also addressed the Ebola situation on its Facebook page, writing:

"The relative risk of exposure to Ebola in the United States is extremely low, given the current situation involving a small number of isolated human cases and no known animal cases. If there is a pet in the home of an Ebola patient, CDC recommends that veterinarians, in collaboration with public health officials, evaluate its risk of exposure (close contact and exposure to blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient). Appropriate measures, such as closely monitoring the exposed pet while taking necessary precautions, should be put in place."