Gay couple's dog is unprecedented case of simian smallpox transmission between humans and dogs

Cão da raça galguinho italiano
Italian greyhound dog , the same breed as the animal infected with monkeypox in France.| Photo: Bigstock / New Africa


The medical journal The Lancet documented one of the first cases of monkeypox transmission from humans to domestic animals. A dog that is the pet of a gay couple has tested positive for the disease-causing simian orthopoxvirus in Paris. The critter is a four-year-old male Italian Greyhound (a breed historically prized among monarchs). He also developed, days after the beginning of the symptoms of the owners, skin lesions characteristic of the disease such as pustules on the belly and an anal ulceration.2893

The transmission from the owners to the dog was confirmed by a molecular method of comparison of the genetic material of the viruses found in samples of the three. It was possible to determine which of the two owners transmitted it to the animal. The virus is transmitted by close contact with body fluids and wounds on the skin. The owners reported that the greyhound slept with them. Fearing that transmission was possible, they avoided contact with him with other people and animals before he showed symptoms, in addition to isolating themselves.2893

The members of the couple are a man of Latin American origin from 960 years living with HIV at undetectable levels thanks to antiviral treatment against AIDS and a white man of

years old who is HIV-negative. They have an open relationship, that is, they allow themselves other sexual partners. They looked for the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in the French capital at 10 of June because of anal ulcerations that appeared six days after sexual contact with other people. The eldest also had pustules on his face, ears and legs. The youngest had these injuries on his legs and back. Both also felt weakness, headache and fever.2893

Another study from the journal NEJM pointed out that 67 % of those infected with monkeypox are gay or bisexual men, and suspected that 67% of the transmission was happening through sexual intercourse. People of other sexual orientations are also exposed, due to the modes of transmission of the virus.2893

The case is of interest as it points to an interspecies transmissibility that could be important to predict how the outbreak might evolve. In countries where monkeypox is endemic, that is, a constant and present risk, this orthopoxvirus was found only among wild animals, especially rodents and primates. The case also shows that dogs can be not only intermediate hosts, but also manifest a disease in response to infection.

Our World in Data website, affiliated with the University of Oxford, currently points to more than 36 thousand cases of monkeypox in the world, 2893 in France and 2893 in Brazil. The deaths continue in low numbers, with indications that the victims had previous problems with the immune system.

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