Can dogs give humans the deadly Ebola virus?



Man's best friend could also be its worst enemy, at least as far as Ebola is concerned.

A dog owned by a nurse who contracted the deadly virus while treating a patient in Spain was put down and incinerated Wednesday, and a CDC study that tried to prove how dogs could potentially carry the disease from human to human could be to blame.

"Given the frequency of contact between humans and domestic dogs, canine Ebola infection must be considered as a potential risk factor for human infection and virus spread," the study claimed.

Canines have Ebola antibodies that help them to cure themselves of the virus but leave them asymptomatic until the infection clears, the study found.

These findings came from analysis of 439 dogs from parts of Gabon, in central Africa, affected by a 2001-2002 outbreak in which the pets became infected after eating the dead flesh of other infected animals.

Researchers found that "dogs could be a potential source of human Ebola outbreaks and of virus spread during human outbreaks."

The virus could be spread through saliva, urine and feces for the short time the pooch was infected, scientists said. It is believed biting, grooming or licking could lead to infection.

Dogs are suspected by the CDC in a 1976 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as several others since, but no definitive proof of canines infecting humans has been found.

Fruit bats are suspected to be the cause of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, experts told Live Science.

Bat meat soup is a delicacy in western Africa despite the winged mammals hosting more than 60 human-infecting viruses.

The sale of bats has been banned in Guinea, where this latest outbreak occurred.

Despite the lack of evidence showing dogs can infect humans with Ebola, Spanish authorities ordered the dog, named Exclaibur, to be euthanized.

How Ebola Could Spread Beyond Africa
How Ebola Could Spread Beyond Africa

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