Dog Food & DietDog Health & Care

Ebola in Dogs

According to the National Institutes of Health, Department of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Ebola virus infection in dogs was discovered during a 2005 study of the disease.

“This study offers the first evidence that dogs might be asymptomatically infected by Ebola virus in the wild. This finding has potential implications for preventing and controlling human outbreaks. The increasing canine seroprevalence gradient from low-risk to at-risk Ebola virus–endemic areas indicates that this seroprevalence might be used as an epidemiologic indicator of virus circulation in regions where no other means of virus detection are available.”

Ebola in dogs study

The study on Ebola in dogs found that positive testing for Ebola, based on blood serum specimen, reflected contact with the virus in Ebola specific areas. Thus, the virus activity in these areas was at a higher risk for infection. Prevalence rate among villages with both an animal source and developing human cases was up to 31.8% with a 95% confidence level, as compared to only 15.4% among dogs from villages with human cases but no identified animal sources.

ebola in dogs
Bushmeat being prepared for cooking in Ghana, 2013 Human consumption of equatorial animals in Africa in the form of bushmeat has been linked to the transmission of diseases to people, including Ebola. (Credit: Wikipedia)

Ebola in dogs and animal sources

Original animal sources for the spread of Ebola were village dogs, wild dogs, pigs, guinea pigs and various Ebola virus-infected animal carcasses that the village hunters found in the forest and would bring back to the village.

Another find is when wild dogs or village dogs would eat on diseased Ebola carcasses (infected carcasses of chimpanzees, gorillas and certain forest antelopes). After this, the disease spreads from human to human, village to village. Earlier studies report, “the discovery of Ebola virus–positive pet dogs in undeclared affected areas suggests that these animals live in close contact with the Ebola virus reservoir,” helping other studies to narrow the search.

Newer studies on Ebola in dogs

Chimpanzees are found to be regularly in contact with the animal virus reservoir, with some now developing non-fatal infections.

The reports that the presence of specific antibodies in animals taken before the epidemics means that the Ebola virus has probably been circulating for a long time in Central African forests. These observations also show that an epidemic or sporadic cases can appear at any moment in the sub-region of Central Africa as a whole.

Reoccurring studies offer the first evidence that dogs might be asymptomatically infected by Ebola virus in the wild, with the infected carcasses of chimpanzees, gorillas and certain forest antelopes found to be the original sources. Human infections appear to be secondary in the Ebola cycle, coming into contact with the diseased carcase in some manner.

In conclusion, “most large primates, once infected, soon die of the disease. Their bodies then become a potential source of contamination for humans, but also for certain domestic animals.” As stated, Ebola virus antibodies were detected in dogs exposed to the virus during the latest epidemics, which suggests that these animals may well have been infected and can therefore be a new source of transmission to humans.


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