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Ebola FAQ's

Friday, October 31, 2014  
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Ebola Virus FAQ

Further content of the page is still in development as the AVMA collaborates with authorities and subject matter experts.  If you have a question that is not addressed below, please contact your veterinarian or email us avmainfo@avma.org.  

Q:  What is the risk of exposure to the Ebola virus in the U.S.? 

A:  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.

Q: Is there a vaccine for Ebola?
A: Unfortunately, there are no approved vaccines, drugs, or products specifically for Ebola available for purchase online or in stores.

Q:  Can dogs or other pets get the Ebola virus from humans, or transmit it to them?

A:  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.

Q:  What if a pet is in contact with an Ebola virus patient? 

A:  The owner or caretaker should contact their local Department of Public Health.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) calls for quarantine not euthanasia for dogs exposed to Ebola.

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. 

Q: Is there a routine test that my veterinarian can run to find out if my pet has been exposed to the Ebola virus?
A: No. Tests need to be preauthorized by the CDC and can only be run at certain labs.

Q: What about risks of Ebola from other animals?
A: The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) states that there is no evidence that domestic animals play an active role in the transmission of the disease to humans. Researchers believe that in Africa the spread of Ebola is a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats.The human patient can then spread the infection through direct contact (not through air, water, or generally by food).


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