Mpox in Animals and Pets


Mpox is a zoonotic disease, which means it can spread between animals and people. The exact source of mpox in nature is not known, but it is believed that small mammals, such as rope and sun squirrels, giant-pouched rats, and African dormice may carry the virus in parts of West and Central Africa.

People can get infected with the virus through direct contact with infected animals, often while hunting, trapping, and processing infected animals or their body parts and fluids. Small mammals can carry the virus without symptoms, while non-human primates like monkeys can get sick with mpox and have signs of disease like humans.

In 2003, an outbreak of mpox in domesticated prairie dogs occurred after they shared bedding and caging with a shipment of infected small mammals from West Africa. This led to 47 human cases in six states in the United States. This was the first time that human mpox was reported outside of Africa. Separating animals and people who are infected or have been exposed to mpox can help stop mpox from spreading further.

What We Know About Mpox in Animals

  • Monkeypox virus can infect a wide range of mammal species, including monkeys, anteaters, hedgehogs, prairie dogs, squirrels, and shrews.
  • We are still learning which species of animals can get infected with Monkeypox virus. While we do not know if reptiles, amphibians, or birds can get mpox, it is unlikely since these animals have not been found to be infected with other orthopoxviruses.
  • Not all animals have a rash when they have mpox.
  • Infected animals can spread Monkeypox virus to people and other animals, and it is possible that people who are infected can spread Monkeypox virus to animals through close contact.
  • Monkeypox virus can be found in the rash caused by mpox (scabs, crusts, fluids) and infected body fluids, including respiratory secretions, and potentially in urine (pee) and feces (poop).

What We Know About Mpox in Pets

  • We don’t know for sure if pets like dogs and cats can be infected with Monkeypox virus, but it may be possible.
  • People with mpox could possibly spread the virus to pets through close contact, including petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.

No pets or other animals were confirmed to have mpox during the global mpox outbreak that began in 2022.

How to Care for Pets if You Have Mpox

  • If you have mpox, avoid contact with animals, including pets, domestic animals, and wildlife to prevent spreading the virus.
    • Ask friends or family members who live in a separate home to care for your animals until you fully recover. After you recover, clean and disinfect your home before bringing healthy animals back.
  • People who are at increased risk for severe mpox should not care for animals that had close contact with a person with mpox. This includes
    • People with weakened immune systems
    • Pregnant people
    • Young children
    • People with a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema

Steps to Take if You Think Your Pet Has Mpox

  • Possible symptoms of mpox in pets include rash, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, bloating, nasal and/or eye secretions or crust, fever, and/or pox-like skin sores (may initially resemble a pimple or blister first).
  • If your pet had close contact with a person with probable or confirmed mpox and they have a new rash or two other symptoms, get your pet tested for mpox.
  • Call your veterinarian if you notice an animal appears sick within 21 days after contact with a person with probable or confirmed mpox. A veterinarian can help notify your state public health veterinarian [136 KB, 7 pages] or state animal health official, who can assist with getting high-risk pets tested.
  • Separate the sick animal from other pets and animals.
  • Limit direct contact between the animal and people for at least 21 days until they are fully recovered or a veterinarian tells you it’s safe.
  • Wash your hands often and wear clothing that covers your skin when caring for and cleaning up after sick animals. Wash your clothes after caring for sick animals.
  • Disinfect animal bedding, enclosures, food dishes, and any other items in direct contact with infected animals.
  • Do not shake soiled laundry and bedding (including disposable rodent bedding).

For information on how to clean and disinfect your home when someone is sick, visit Cleaning and Disinfecting.

Source: U.S CDC

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