Patients are warned that stroking animals could spread monkeypox

Keep away from your pet if you’ve got monkeypox! Patients are warned that stroking animals could spread disease further

  • DEFRA has warned that monkeypox sufferers could be a risk to their pets
  • Cases of the rare virus have risen to 78 according to the Health Security Agency
  • European officials have said that animals could become permanent reservoirs of the disease – making it more like to become endemic
  • Monkeypox patients will be told to keep their distance from family pets in official guidance to be issued later this week.

    The advice from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs will warn of a potential risk of human-to-animal transmission.

    European health officials have already expressed concerns that animals on the Continent could become permanent reservoirs of disease if it is allowed to make the jump.

    Advice from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs will warn of a potential risk of human-to-animal transmission for monkeypox

    This would increase the odds of it becoming endemic in Europe.

    Now the UK’s Defra is drawing up guidelines in an attempt to limit the risk of monkeypox patients infecting the likes of cats, dogs and rabbits.

    There are also fears infected patients could contaminate their pet’s fur and the illness be passed on to others in their household.

    Seven more cases of the virus were identified in England, taking the UK total since May 7 to 78, the UK Health Security Agency said yesterday.

    Justine Shotton, president of the British Veterinary Association, said she believes the risk of infecting pets is low but was ‘supportive of a cautious approach’.

    ‘It would be a sensible decision to keep your distance from a pet while in quarantine,’ she said.

    ‘If I was diagnosed with monkeypox I would do whatever I could to limit contact, such as asking a friend or relative to take care of it.’

    She added: ‘There is currently no evidence of transmission between humans and cats and dogs but we know rabbits and rodents are susceptible.

    Officials are confident the virus will not grow exponentially like Covid, although they are understood to be planning an online dashboard that tracks case numbers

    ‘If you have concerns about your pets health – if they have a fever, respiratory issues, poor appetite or lethargy – speak to a vet.

    ‘The chances are it will be something other than monkeypox but it’s worth getting it checked.’

    The government has ordered 20,000 more doses of smallpox vaccine, which is being used to treat those infected and their close contacts.

    Britain currently has 5,000 doses of Imvanex, although 1,000 have already been distributed for use.

    Officials are confident the virus will not grow exponentially like Covid, although they are understood to be planning an online dashboard that tracks case numbers, which sparked controversy during the coronavirus pandemic.

    People with unusual rashes or lesions, particularly if they have had a new sexual partner, have been urged to contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health clinic.

    But health officials stressed people should phone ahead before attending in person.

    Despite the rise in cases, the UKHSA said that the risk to the UK population ‘remains low’.

    The health body said that a ‘notable proportion of the cases’ identified have been among people who are gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men.

    These people in particularly have been urged to be aware of symptoms, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner.

    Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser of the UKHSA, said: ‘We are continuing to promptly detect new monkeypox cases through our extensive surveillance network and NHS services.

    ‘If anyone suspects they might have rashes or lesions on any part of their body, particularly if they have recently had a new sexual partner, they should limit their contact with others and contact NHS 111 or their local sexual health service as soon as possible – though please phone ahead before attending in person.’

    UKHSA teams have been tracing high-risk contacts of those with a confirmed case and are advising contacts to isolate for 21 days.

    It is also offering the smallpox vaccine to close contacts to reduce their risk of symptoms and severe illness.