Could Our Pets Infect Us With Ebola?

Just when you thought the Ebola Crisis couldn’t get any worse. It does. Especially, if you are like me and happen to be an animal lover. And I am sure there are plenty of people like me.

Health officials in Texas, must now confront a second dilemma. What should be done with a pet dog, belonging to the Texas hospital nurse who contracted Ebola from the patient she was nursing, who later died from the disease?

Not only did the nurse interact with other people and of course she was completely innocent to the fact that she had become infected. She also interacted with her dog, a King Charles spaniel. Needless to say health authorities have no idea if dogs can catch and spread Ebola in the same way humans can.

Health authorities claim they are trying to find a place where they can monitor the dog, to see if it develops Ebola symptoms. The nurse’s apartment has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. She was admitted to a hospital isolation unit and is reported to be in a stable condition. Texan authorities say her dog will be looked after. But to what extent that statement is a pet lover talking, or simply a deliberate attempt to avoid the torrent of criticism because of what occurred in Spain recently, is anyone’s guess.

Spain was confronted with a similar scenario to Texas. A Spanish nursing assistant also contracted Ebola from a patient. She too had a dog. And while the dog showed no signs of having the virus, Spanish authorities, who were clearly not animal lovers, decided it should be put to sleep. The decision caused a public uproar. Animal rights activists took to the streets to protest the decision in more than 20 cities across Spain. An online petition attracted more than 400 thousand signatures.

I have some sympathy for authorities because this is a really tough call. According to the World Health Organization, Ebola is found in a number of animals like fruit bats, monkeys, apes, chimpanzees and pigs. One of the ways that humans get Ebola in Africa, is by eating bush meat infected with the virus.

A study from 2005, suggests there is a theoretical possibility that dogs can pass the disease on to humans, but nothing is confirmed and the only option for health authorities is to recommend caution.

In 2001, an Ebola outbreak in the African country of Gabon, found traces of Ebola anti-bodies in dogs, which is a sign that they were infected at some point. But where and how they were infected, nobody can answer.

A University Professor in the UK, who is also an Ebola expert, said the wisest move would be to assume that dogs represent a risk to humans but if you want a truthful answer no-one can confirm it because no-one has conducted the necessary research.

Ebola spreads through close body contact with someone infected with the disease. The virus is found in bodily fluids such as blood, vomit, faeces, urine or semen. There has to be an entry point for the infection to be transferred such as having sex, cutting the skin, or touching the mouth, nose or eyes. That’s why health workers wear fully protective suits when they come into contact with an infected patient. The most transmissible fluids are blood, faeces and vomit. But the virus can also be found in the saliva and sweat of patients who are extremely ill with Ebola.

The symptoms include, headache, muscle pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain or unexplained bruising or bleeding.

But does it mean that by coming into contact with dog faeces or secretions from a pet, belonging to an Ebola patient, you will also contract the disease? The answer is no-one knows.

The US Center For Disease Control and Prevention, is at pains to point out that there are no reports of pets becoming sick or playing any kind of role, so far, in the transmission of Ebola to humans. The center is currently working with the American Veterinary Medical Association, and others, to help develop guidelines to cover the US pet population.

Ebola has killed more than four thousand people. The number of cases is currently double that. There is evidence to suggest that Africa could reach more than a million Ebola cases by the end of the year. We need to fight this thing with everything we have got because potentially it threatens the entire world.

But it would be even more tragic and cruel and heartbreaking to discover that dogs and cats have a role to play in its transmission to humans. Clearly, it is one more question we need to answer urgently.

At The Moment My Cat Likes It A Little Too Much For My Liking

We have a foster cat. She is a seven-month-old tortoiseshell called Sadie. One of the things we do is provide a temporary home for cats and dogs that would otherwise be on death row. It’s a pit stop until they can find their forever home.

But right now, Sadie, our foster cat, is driving me nuts. She is on heat and up for it. Big time. I am living with a nymphomaniac who is not getting any. Believe me, that is a very bad combination. I can’t help thinking she was named after that William Somerset Maugham book about a fallen woman called Sadie Thompson. It is such an appropriate name.

It’s not that I mind the way Sadie crouches down, raises her hind-quarters and thrusts her backside in the air. I don’t even mind it when she seductively wraps herself around my ankles or the coquettish way she stares with great concentration and then rolls around on her back. She reminds me of that Nine Inch Nails song I want to f***k you like an animal although I prefer the version done by the group Lady Does It Better. Check it out on Youtube.

What is getting to me is Sadie’s constant, bloody, chirping. Chirp, chirp, chirp all over the house. It’s either chirping or this loud, throaty yowling roooooowwwww. Talk about grievous bodily harm of the eardrums.There is no mistaking her intentions. It’s come and get it boys, I’m all yours. Therein lies the second problem. If she managed to get outside, then every Tom in the street would be lining up. Sadie would be up the duff in no time at all and the world would be populated with even more unwanted kittens. So she has to stay inside and I have to suffer.

Now if I was a tomcat I would be more than happy to oblige just to keep her happy and quiet. But I’m not. So it’s impossible. I’ve tried telling her but she doesn’t listen. We have three other male cats of our own but they are all duds as far as she is concerned. None of them have any balls at all. They don’t have the slightest interest apart from one, who occasionally likes to sniff her nether regions. Probably remembering a long forgotten time. But he’s just window-shopping with absolutely no intention of buying any of the merchandise. Our two dogs are in the same position as me. Sorry but we can’t help.

I’ve been told that Sadie can’t be neutered until she stops with the promiscuous behavior and goes off heat. It did stop for a brief time but it returned again with a vengeance and worse still, it’s showing no signs of disappearing any time soon.

In one desperate moment, a mad thought did briefly cross my mind. What about inviting one of the neighbor-hood Tom’s over just to shut her up? Of course I dismissed it just as quickly. But it did get me thinking and wondering. Do cats have recreational sex just like humans? I’m talking about sex for pleasure and not simply procreation.  Many animals do such as dolphins, rats, horses and birds of the feathered kind. But Guess what? Cats don’t. They only have sex when the female is on heat. It lasts seven to ten days and can occur every few weeks. Once reproduction is achieved the Yes turns into a giant, fat, no way known.

So I guess I just have to bide my time and get ready to rush her to the vet the minute there is a break in proceedings.

Either that, or get a gun and take her out the back and shoot her. Bang, bang. Of course I am having a big joke. But if you could ask Sadie I’m sure she’d say please take me out the back so we can have a bang, bang as in gang-bang. Yippee.