Can Dogs Spread the Ebola Virus?

by Bruce W. Little, DVM

Can Dogs Spread the Ebola Virus?

No one knows for sure. Out of an abundance of caution, authorities euthanized the pet dog of a Spanish Nursing assistant after she contracted the Ebola virus while caring for a patient in Spain.

There has never been a documented case of Ebola spreading between dogs and people; however, at least one study suggests that dogs can contract Ebola. Dogs may then carry the virus, while exhibiting no symptoms of the illness. It is well known that the first case of an Ebola infection came from animals, such as bats, monkeys and apes.

How Does Ebola Spread?

The Ebola virus can spread through close contact with a person exhibiting flu-like symptoms, such as a high fever, aches, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. The virus spreads when a healthy person comes in contact with a symptomatic person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, breast milk, saliva or semen. The fluids must have an entry point, such as a cut or scrape. The virus can also spread if a person touches their nose, mouth or eyes with contaminated hands. This is why health care workers wear protective gloves and other equipment.

According to the World Health Organization, blood, feces and vomit are the most infectious fluids. The virus is only found in saliva after a patient is severely ill, and the whole virus has yet to be found in a patient’s sweat.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said, “Ebola is not airborne. In order to contract the disease, one must come in contact with an infected person who is showing symptoms through bodily fluids as stated above.”

For further information on the Ebola virus and the means of transmission, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.