Patients suffering from monkeypox should avoid contact with pets for at least 21 days, according to new UK Health Security Agency guidance (UKHSA). So far, the virus has infected 106 individuals in the United Kingdom.

Hamsters, Gerbils, as well as other rodents, may be especially vulnerable to this disease, which could spread throughout the animal kingdom. So far, no cases of the virus have been found in pets, and the risk remains low, according to the government.

“The fear is that the virus will infiltrate domesticated pets and play ping-pong with between humans and them,” University of Warwick virologist Prof Lawrence Young said. “If you aren’t careful, you could develop an animal reservoir for the illness, causing it to flow back into humans and creating a vicious cycle of infection.”

Pet guinea pigs, mice, rats, and other rodents should be taken away from the household of someone infected with monkeypox for at least 21 days and tested for the virus, according to the UKHSA and other health authorities.

According to figures, the United Kingdom has two million pet rodents. Other pets, such as cats and dogs, should be kept indoors and examined by a veterinarian on a regular basis to “ensure no symptoms are observed.”

According to the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra), the patient should not prepare food or groom their pet if this can be done by others in the household. “No cases of the monkeypox viral have ever been suspected or disclosed in pets in the country, and their risk remains low,” said Christine Middlemiss, England’s chief veterinary officer.

“We will closely monitor the situation and collaborate with veterinarians and public health co-workers in the UK and around the world to manage the risk on animal health associated with monkeypox.”

The Perils of Reservoirs

Separately, the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) stated this week that the rodent pets of monkeypox cases should be “ideally” isolated in supervised facilities and checked for the disease before the quarantine period expires.

The animals will only be put down as the very last resort, according to the document, if alienation is not possible. Larger animals, like dogs, could be quarantined at home and monitored on a regular basis. The disease is thought to be most dangerous in guinea pigs, rats, mice, and other rodents.

According to scientists, little is known about how monkeypox might manifest itself in the domestic pet population. However, rodents and a specific squirrel species are more likely than humans to contract and spread the disease.

According to the ECDC, a “spillover” event in which a human afflicts a pet could result in the virus establishing itself in European wildlife, though the risk is “very low.” Monkeypox has the potential to become endemic, which happens when a disease crosses species and becomes endemic in a new population.

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