Scientists fear what could come next once monkeypox spreads in wild animals, and here’s why you should be worried too.
After the first cast of human-to-dog transmission was reported in August, many got anxious on how this could become more common as the outbreak continues.
But the problem was not only about the human-to-dog transmission. Malachy Okeke, a virologist at the American University of Nigeria in Yola, said it’s more than that because the scenario could get worse once the virus spreads in wild animals.
If monkeypox becomes established in wild animals, such as rodents outside of West and Central Africa, the virus could be easily transmitted back to humans because the wild animals would become animal reservoirs of monkeypox.
Okeke told Nature that this could spell more trouble because the virus would be “impossible to eliminate” at that point.
Huaiping Zhu, a disease modeller and director of the Canadian Centre for Disease Modelling at York University in Toronto, added that things become more complicated when human-to-animal and animal-to-human spread get factored into the transmission process.
Zhu noted that if scientists lack a thorough understanding of how animals change the transmission dynamics, they will struggle to address the problem and prevent future outbreaks.
A report published in the Lancet medical journal last month discussed how a pet dog contracted monkeypox after sharing the bed of its owners — a gay French couple engaging in a non-monogamous relationship with monkeypox symptoms.
Monkeypox transmission in domesticated animals was unheard of before the case, which prompted scientists and health experts to engage in debate on the need to isolate pets from owners who got infected with monkeypox.
In the same month, Brazil’s health ministry reported a case of a puppy contracting the monkeypox virus after living in the same environment with a confirmed patient.
Local authorities isolated the animal and disinfected the site with bleach. The owner of the puppy was also instructed to wear gloves, mask, long-sleeved shirt and pants when feeding or interacting with the animal, as per Outbreak News Today.