Answering your questions about Ebola and pets

Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald and Yoda

Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald and Yoda

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DENVER -- The Ebola concerns don't stop with humans.

People want to know what the risk is to their pets.

Officials in Dallas who diagnosed the 26-year-old nurse with Ebola also made sure her pet dog was placed in isolation as well.

It turns out the risk to pets is low for them catching and/or transmitting Ebola. The CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association want to make it clear that dogs cannot transmit the virus to humans.

Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald at the Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver says his facility is taking a lot of calls from pet owners worried about the Ebola virus.

"Several calls a day about it and there's a lot of bad information."

Studies from outbreak areas in Africa found that dogs can have antibodies which show they've been exposed to Ebola. But they don't have antigens ...  dogs cannot pass the virus along.

"Can they be exposed to it? Sure. But do they transmit it? At least at this time the best evidence we have is dogs don't transmit it to people," Dr. Fitzgerald says.

The same appears to be true for other pets, too.

Riots broke out in Spain when authorities euthanized a dog owned by a nursing assistant diagnosed with Ebola. "I think that may have been an overreaction," says Dr. Fitzgerald.

In Dallas, doctors decided to isolate a dog in the apartment of the nurse who owns the pet, after she came down with the disease. "It's a good precaution. There's a lot we don't know about this virus," Dr. Fitzgerald says.

And he has a bit of advice. He says it's always a good idea to make sure your pets are up to date on vaccinations and to practice good hygiene.

Wild animals, particularly bats and monkeys, can transmit the Ebola virus to people. Dr. Fitzgerald says it's a good idea to watch very carefully and monitor animals to see exactly which species do carry it.

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