The Ebola virus is making quite the news headlines as of late, as an outbreak of the virus in West Africa has taken the lives of thousands of people around the world already. Many people are getting anxious and excited over the possibility of getting Ebola in the worst way – it’s nearly mayhem. It’s gotten so bad that in fact, a dog named Excalibur from Spain, who could have caught Ebola from the Spanish nurse who was diagnosed with the virus, was euthanized and put down. While it is a very sad and unfortunate situation, the occurrence begs the question of how much we really know about dogs and Ebola, and the answer is: not a whole lot.
There is knowledge about Ebola in humans, bats, antelopes, and even non-human primates, but there is not much work that’s been done with dogs when it comes to that matter. According to Dr. Amesh Adalja, a specialist in infectious diseases at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, while Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids and blood and people are only infectious when they are symptomatic, that’s only based on humans and their data; we don’t know the role of dogs in the transmission of the virus disease. However, dogs are mammals and viruses (including Ebola) can infect a multitude of mammal species. Also, dogs cannot be tested for Ebola just yet as there are no diagnostic tests for dogs and it is unknown what symptoms the dogs will have – they may not even experience symptoms.
In the case of Excalibur, people wonder if the dog could have been prevented from being killed – like, maybe he could have been in quarantine. While that is an ideal situation so the dog could have lived, Adalja says that it is a very hard thing to do. The incubation period is unknown if its the same in a dog as a human, as well as the issue of the dog’s blood type. The protocols and algorithms seem to work on primates but it is tricky to see how it would translate to canines in a safe manner.
(Photo Source: Andres Kudacki/AP)