Ebola virus – AVMA’s working to find information for you

The death of an international traveler diagnosed in the U.S. as having the Ebola virus disease (EVD), coupled with the precautionary measure by Spanish health officials to euthanize the dog of an exposed healthcare worker, have raised questions and concerns among veterinarians and the public alike:

– How will the U.S. react if faced with an increased number of EVD patients?

– Is there any chance that what happened in Spain could happen here?

– Is it even possible for dogs to get EVD or spread it to humans?

We know that you and your clients are looking for answers, and we’re working to get information for you. The AVMA is collaborating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with others agencies and experts and is tapping into the broad expertise of our member veterinarians to develop information for our members and the pet-owning public. We will strive to ensure that veterinarians have a prominent voice as these issues are discussed and decided in the U.S.

This morning, the AVMA convened a call that gathered public health experts, government officials, and researchers to share information on what is currently known and to begin compiling information for the veterinary community and the public. This was just a first step. Working jointly, we hope to develop background information and FAQs to help you and your clients.

Key points:

  • The relative risk of exposure to the Ebola virus in the U.S. is extremely low, as there have been only a small number of isolated human cases and no known animal cases.
  • Although EVD is a zoonotic disease, there has not been evidence of its transmission to humans from dogs. Indeed, it is not even known if dogs are capable of contracting and then transmitting the disease. A study analyzing the 2001-2002 Ebola virus outbreak in Gabon found antibodies against the virus in about 25% of dogs in the affected area, but no virus was found in them.   Furthermore, none of the animals showed signs or died of the disease during the study period. The study only indicated that the animals had encountered the Ebola virus.
  • The CDC recommends that if a pet is in the home of an EVD patient, veterinarians, in collaboration with public health officials, should evaluate the pet’s risk of exposure (close contact and exposure to blood or body fluids of an EVD patient). Appropriate measures, such as closely monitoring the exposed pet while using necessary precautions, should be taken based on that evaluation.
  • While we know many more questions exist about EVD, the AVMA is committed to providing pertinent information and ensuring that the veterinary profession is a driving force in discussions of how pets will be treated and cared for during an outbreak of this or any other zoonotic disease of public health concern.

Please stay tuned to this blog and to our social media channels, where we will keep you informed as we work with subject matter experts and animal and public health officials.

Photo: CDC / Cynthia Goldsmith

10 thoughts on “Ebola virus – AVMA’s working to find information for you

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  6. There are large gaps in our science base of knowledge base regarding this zoonotic disease. It is important to take prudent precautions until we learn more about the roles of various animal species that can become infected. Until recently there has been minimal scientific investments to close the gaps in our knowledge.

  7. Well, it has happened here. The nurse just diagnosed here in Dallas has a King Charles!
    I’m at the SPCA of Texas in Dallas.
    What to do now?

    • I’m sure someone will get back to you in 6 months to a year once a study or two has been done.


      Answers are needed NOW unfortunately. And since the CDC can’t even give a straight answer that makes sense (Is this or is this not a level 4 pathogen that should be treated with level 4 PPE and protocols in a level 4 isolation unit?); I don’t see how we are going to get real answers from anyone else. There can be no waiting for studies, or committees, or whatever. A decision needs to be made for you all in the TX area RIGHT NOW.

  8. I understand the emotions, but really I think they did a very practical thing in Spain when you balance the urgent threat of Ebola with all that is unknown about shedding and transmission and the carrier state in animals. It’s so easy to judge from the periphery and to think things would be different here. Let’s leave scientific inquiry to tightly controlled ABSL4 labs.

  9. Thank you for this blog and site. I was really frustrated over reaction to euthanize the Spanish patient’s dog rather than to isolate and quarrantine. So much for concern about healthy emotional state and the healing process! I’m a swine practitioner and know Ebola Reston at least has been isolated from swine. I believe they remain assymptomatic despite replication & antibody. Yet we saw the same thing prior to porcine circovirus epidemic, PCV2a vs PCV2b. It clearly demonstrates the need for sound science and surveillance monitoring in a very mobile world.