Springfield Veterinary Hospital Addresses Public Concern Over the Ebola Virus in Animals

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Deerfield Veterinary Hospital in Springfield, Mo. offers medical insights to calm fears about the Ebola virus affecting household pets.

A Springfield veterinary hospital, Deerfield offers consultation on Ebola risks for pets.

Deerfield Veterinary Hospital provides medical and surgical care for pets in Springfield, Mo. and the surrounding area.

The overwhelming majority of the veterinary community agree the risk of pets in the U.S. becoming sick with Ebola is incredibly low.

Deerfield Veterinary Hospital announced this week its staff is available to address pet owners’ concerns about the risk of the Ebola virus in animals, though staff members caution that any fears of contracting the virus from a pet remain unwarranted at this time. In response to public concerns about the 2014 Ebola outbreak, veterinarians at the animal hospital in Springfield, Mo. have decided to field questions about Ebola affecting pets. They are hopeful that providing clear medical facts about the disease will help alleviate worries and combat the mis-information that is currently circulating the Internet.

Deerfield Veterinary Hospital Co-Founder Dr. Denise Roche, an experienced veterinarian in Springfield, Mo., cited considerable evidence from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) regarding the low risk of pets becoming infected with Ebola: “While we are happy to talk with concerned people about the Ebola virus, the risk of a dog contracting the disease is so low that pet owners really need not be overly concerned. In fact, leading experts from the CDC and AVMA have stated there is no evidence to date of dogs becoming sick with Ebola or being capable of spreading the disease to humans.” At this time, leading experts agree cats are not at risk, as it appears that cats are immune to Ebola.

Facts Regarding the Risks

Dr. Roche and her colleagues at the Springfield veterinary hospital acknowledged that in addition to the elevated risk healthcare providers face when treating Ebola patients, persons who encounter infected wild animals are also at greater risk of exposure. “The CDC warns that Ebola can spread through contact with objects that have been contaminated by wildlife, so that is certainly a concern in West Africa where outbreaks are more prevalent; however, no such case has been discovered in the U.S.,” said Dr. Ned Caldwell, also a Deerfield Veterinary Hospital co-founder.

Dr. Caldwell added that some people with older pets are particularly interested in facts about Ebola. “Risk for any condition is, of course, increased when it comes to elderly dog care,” he said, “but pet owners can rest assured that despite the fears evoked because Ebola is a zoonotic disease, the CDC, the AVMA and the overwhelming majority of the veterinary community agree that risk of our furry family members becoming sick with Ebola is incredibly low.” Results from a 2001-02 study conducted during an outbreak in Gabon, on the west coast of Africa, supports the stance that pets are highly unlikely to suffer the effects of Ebola. The study found that roughly 25% of dogs living in the area developed antibodies against Ebola; however, none of the dogs died or even displayed symptoms associated with the virus, as recently noted on the AVMA website.

Ways to Acquire the Ebola Virus

It is important to acknowledge the current Ebola outbreak, which is most evident in West Africa yet has spread to numerous other countries around the world, marks the largest outbreak since the disease first appeared near the Ebola River in 1976. Still, according to the CDC, the U.S. population should not overreact to the disease appearing this year in isolated cases in Texas.

The CDC states that people can only acquire Ebola from direct contact with specific items: the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola; objects contaminated with the virus; and infected animals or their blood, body fluids or meat [known cases involve only wildlife]. The CDC also states that people cannot acquire Ebola through air, water or food.

Summing up Deerfield Veterinary Hospital’s stance on whether or not pet owners in the U.S. should fear the Ebola virus, Dr. Roche said, “With so many media personalities scaring the public with exaggerated claims about Ebola, it’s important to turn to the medical experts who have studied the disease since its onset. The CDC has made it clear: Ebola poses no significant risk to our general population—including our pets.”

For more information on the Ebola virus, read the “Ebola in Dogs: What Do We Know?” blog article on deerfieldvet.com or visit the avma.org or cdc.gov websites. To learn more about Deerfield Veterinary Hospital in Springfield, Mo., follow them on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and the Deerfield blog, or visit deerfieldvet.com.

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