AVMA Announces New Guidelines on Ebola and Pets

dallas ebola patient nina pham and dogAnyone with known exposure to Ebola should have their pets quarantined for 21 days or have someone else care for them during that period, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) announced yesterday.

The AVMA began working on guidelines for treating the pets of Ebola patients last month, after Excalibur, the dog belonging to Madrid nurse Teresa Romero, who had tested positive for Ebola, was euthanized by health officials — despite a public outcry to quarantine the dog instead. (Romero has now filed a lawsuit for about $188,000.)

When Dallas nurse Nina Pham became infected with Ebola, her dog, Bentley, was quarantined for 21 days and found to be free of the virus. Pham, who is also now Ebola free, was reunited with Bentley on Nov. 1.

“The development of this guidance was a long process due to its novel and complex nature, as well as the lack of scientific data on Ebola and companion animals currently available,” according to an AVMA press release.

Developed in conjunction with health experts and agencies including the USDA and CDC, the AVMA’s new recommendations are intended to provide guidance for public health officials on how to assess, handle and monitor pets that may have been exposed to Ebola.

“There have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola virus or of being able to spread Ebola to people or other animals,” notes one of the two new AVMA documents, Interim Guidance for Public Health Officials on Pets of Ebola Virus Disease Contacts. “However, it is important to keep people and animals away from blood or body fluids of a person with symptoms of Ebola infection.”

The other new document, Interim Guidance for Dog or Cat Quarantine After Exposure to a Human with Confirmed Ebola Virus Disease, recommends that pets who came into contact with a person with Ebola must be assessed for exposure and may be placed in mandatory quarantine for at least 21 days. “This situation can be avoided if the pet is moved out of the residence of the person being monitored for Ebola before any symptoms start in the person,” according to the AVMA.

Resources for pet parents, veterinarians and health officials are available on the AVMA website’s Ebola Virus page.

Photo via USA TODAY

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!