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WHO urges caution after first case of human-to-dog monkeypox transmission

Healthcare workers with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene help people register for the monkeypox vaccine at one of the City's vaccination sites, New York, July 26, 2022. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
Healthcare workers with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene help people register for the monkeypox vaccine at one of the City's vaccination sites, New York, July 26, 2022. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

The World Health Organization calls for people infected with monkeypox to avoid exposing animals to the virus following a first reported case of human-to-dog transmission.

A first case of human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox — between two men and their Italian greyhound living together in Paris — was reported last week in the medical journal The Lancet.

“This is the first case reported of human-to-animal transmission… and we believe it is the first instance of a canine being infected,” Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s technical lead for monkeypox, told reporters.

Experts, she said, had been aware of the theoretical risk that such a jump could happen, and that public health agencies had already been advising those suffering from the disease to “isolate from their pets”.

In addition, she said “waste management is critical” to lower the risk of contaminating rodents and other animals outside the household.

It was vital, she said, for people to “have information on how to protect their pets, as well as how to manage their waste so that animals in general are not exposed to the monkeypox virus.”

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