Animal Health, Monkeypox, University of Washington

UW study to screen pets of Seattle-area people diagnosed with monkeypox

From UW Medicine

A new study is inviting pet owners in the greater Seattle area who test positive for monkeypox to have their animals screened for the virus.

The Monkeypox and Pets Study is accepting enrollees in King County, Wash.

Owners of dogs, cats, ferrets, rats, mice and hamsters may participate.

The study will not include reptiles or birds. 

“We’re enrolling local households where someone has been diagnosed with monkeypox. Our team can go out and provide free testing of the animals and be able to tell with this study how big a problem this is,” said Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, a professor at the University of Washington schools of Medicine and Public Health.

The study is underway in the Center for One Health Research, which Rabinowitz directs.

“We don’t have any evidence at this point that a pet could infect a human (with monkeypox), but it just means that we should be cautious and take reasonable precautions at this point,” he said.

Pet owners can reduce the chances of infecting pets by washing their hands often, especially after being outside, and by not sharing bowls and dishes with your animals, he said.  

Monkeypox transmission between people can happen through close physical contact. Keep that in mind if your pet wants to snooze with you on your bed. Kissing your pet might also put both you and perhaps your animal at risk. 

The Center for One Health Research previously tracked household transmission of COVID-19 between people and their pets. About 40% of he pets tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. That suggested that the pets had been infected by exposure to their virus-carrying owners.