Are animals susceptible to monkeypox (MPX)?
In general, MPX is not very contagious and little is known about the disease epidemiology. It is assumed that the natural host is an unspecified African rodent.
Based on current knowledge, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) assesses that among the usual pet animals, mainly rodents (e.g. chinchilla, mice, rats and ground squirrels), primates and maybe rabbits are at risk of catching MPX. One case of an infected dog in France has recently been published.
Virus can be transmitted via close contact to an infected individual. It can also to a lesser extent be transferred via surfaces, fur and material recently contaminated from an infected person or animal, even if the animal is not infected. This also includes animal cages and bedding.
What are the clinical signs of MPX?
Like in humans, infection with MPX can cause fever, anorexia, rashes and skin blisters. The number of blisters varies from very few to thousands and can appear anywhere on the body – usually in the place initially in contact with the virus. The blisters burst and the crust is maintained until they are fully healed.
However, clinical signs in animals are not well described and please call you veterinarian if you observe any illness in an animal that has been in close contact with a monkeypox patient.
MPX is not considered very contagious, but they can transmit virus from one day before the rash and until the skin is fully healed. The virus is transmitted by direct contact and especially the liquid in the blisters contain virus. The disease is very rarely fatal. Clinical signs can appear up to 21 days after infection.
What about my pets and other animals, if I am diagnosed with MPX?
The DVFA recommends that you inform the public health authorities during your interview of any animal contact you may have had contact with, both with your own pets, others’ pets and during work.
If you are isolated in your home with MPX, DVFA recommends that you care for your own pet. If you are in hospital or somewhere else, ensure that someone else is looking after your pets.
Monitor your pets’ health carefully. If your pets fall ill, contact your veterinarian by phone.
Avoid close contact with animals during your isolation period. We recommend that your pets stay in your home until at least 21 day after all your clinical signs have disappeared.
Avoid contact between your animals and wild animals or rodents during this period. Bedding and other material from the cages must be disposed of in closed bags in the normal bin. If another person has to care for the animals, we recommend that the animal remains in your home.
If you are isolated at home and do not have an enclosed garden or yard to exercise your dog, ask someone else to walk your dog for you. The dog must be kept on a short leash without contact to other people or animals on these walks and all feces must be collected and disposed of in a closed bag. This will avoid transfer of potential virus from the fur and feces to others.
Cats must be kept indoor for the full period and cat litter disposed of in closed bags in the normal bin only.
DVFA only advises on contact and care for your pet during your illness. For advice on your own situation, please contact the public health authorities or your GP.
What if I am a close contact of a MPX patient and have a pet?
Unless you have any clinical signs of MPX, the DVFA assesses only very low risk of you infecting your pets. However, we do recommend good hygiene including handwashing when in contact with your pets.
What do I do if my pet has been in contact with a MPX patient?
If your pet or animal has been in contact with an MPX patient, we recommend you isolate the animal at home for at least 21 days after the last contact.
Monitor the animal for signs of illness and contact your veterinarian if it gets ill. We also recommend that you and others avoid close contact with the animal during the isolation period. See detailed advice on pet isolation in the section of pets of MPX patients above.
What do I do if I think my animal has MPX?
If you think your pet or animal has MPX contact your veterinarian by phone and inform them of your suspicion. The animal needs to be kept isolated with no contact to other animals or people, until the veterinarian has examined the animal or rejected your suspicion. To avoid spreading the disease, ask the veterinarian to come to you rather than bringing the animal to the clinic.
For veterinarians: what do I do if an owner suspects MPX in their animal?
DVFA recommends that the animal stays in the home for the veterinary examination to avoid spread of the disease.
If you cannot immediately reject the MPX after an examination of the animal, MPX in animals are notifiable on suspicion, so contact DVFA immediately. They can also advise on which samples to take. DVFA will pay for the laboratory test. The animals need to stay in isolation until the result of the laboratory test is known.
More information in newsletters for veterinarians (in Danish)
Newsletter for veterinarians, August 29, 2022 (in Danish)
Newsletter for veterinarians, May 31, 2022 (in Danish)