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June 2003, a rare disease called monkeypox was reported among several
people for the first time in the United States. Monkeypox normally occurs
among animals and people in central and western Africa. In people, the
illness causes a rash like smallpox.
who got monkeypox as part of this outbreak became sick after touching
or handling sick pet prairie dogs. Those prairie dogs were infected by
other animals that were sent from Africa to the United States on April
9 to be sold as pets. The infected animals included Gambian giant pouched
rats, rope squirrels, dormice, and other small mammals. You
can see photos of these animals online. Most people who got monkeypox
in the United States did not get very sick, but the disease can be deadly.
This outbreak is a threat to the public's health.
sheet has important information and instructions about monkeypox for people
who have contact with animals. This includes pet shop owners and workers,
animal handlers, animal control officers, animal rescuers, and pet owners.
Follow Legal Restrictions on Certain Animals
of the dangers of these animals to the public, CDC and FDA put a legal
order into place on June 11 to stop the import of all rodents from
Africa into the United States. This order also stops, among other
things, the movement, sale, or release into the wild of prairie dogs
and six types of African rodents within the United States. On November
4, 2003, the order was replaced by an interim final rule which continues
to stop the import of all rodents from Africa and among other things,
the movement, sale, or release into the wild of prairie dogs and six
types of African rodents within the United States. People who do not
follow this legal rule are breaking the law. The
legal rule can be found online.
Watch for Symptoms of Monkeypox in Animals
It is not
known what types of animals might catch monkeypox. Any mammal, including
cats, dogs, and pocket pets such as hamsters and gerbils, can get monkeypox
if they have been around another animal or person that is sick. Some animals
with monkeypox have died and others have gotten better.
that have been seen in animals during this outbreak include:
Animals that have monkeypox also may just seem to be very tired and may
not eat or drink.
- Pus from
the eyes (appears cloudy or crusty) or the nose
lymph nodes in the arms or legs
or blister-like rash
If You See Signs of Monkeypox, Call Your Health Department
If an animal
around you shows signs of monkeypox, call your state or local health department
right away. The health department may want to come get the animal or they
may tell you take the animal to an animal doctor (vet). Follow the health
department's instructions exactly.
Follow Instructions Carefully
If you touch
a sick animal, you could get monkeypox. Animals that are sick should be
cared for by trained staff who are using the proper precautions. If your
health department asks you to take the sick animal to a vet, follow the
Anyone who has a sick animal needs to watch for symptoms of human illness
that could be monkeypox. If you think someone is ill from contact with a
sick animal, call your doctor or health department immediately. For more
information on symptoms in people, see the
the vet clinic and let them know you have an animal that may have monkeypox.
They can then take steps to protect themselves and other animals.
- If the
clinic agrees to see the animal, the staff there need to arrange for
the animal to be brought into the clinic safely and quickly.
- Get ready
to handle the animal for the trip to the clinic:
gloves and protective clothing to keep from getting scratched. This
includes heavy rubber gloves and a long sleeve shirt. This will
also help keep you from touching the monkeypox blisters and the
animal's body fluids.
you think the animal might try to bite, wear the heaviest gloves
you have. These can be leather garden gloves or household utility
the animal in a cage or box for transport. Be sure the animal has
the number of people you take with you. It's best to leave children
with someone else if you can.
- If the
vet thinks the animal has monkeypox, you need to clean and disinfect
the area of the vehicle where the animal was kept (see Cleaning section).
and dry clothing and other washable materials used to handle the animal.
your hands carefully with soap and water and after you clean.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
If a sick
animal has been removed from your home or place of business, contact your
state or local health department
for advice about cleaning. If they don't have special instructions, follow
the steps below.
- Use standard
household detergents first to clean surfaces.
clean with a disinfectant, like a solution of ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon
tips to remember:
toys, cages, food containers, and other objects
and disinfect by hand or in a dishwasher
bedding, pillows, or other washable materials
in a household washing machine or throw away after you disinfect
chips and other objects that need to be tossed
soak with a disinfectant, put the materials in a plastic bag, and
then place them in a covered trashcan with other household trash
you don't want to throw away your heavy gloves, you can wash as clothing
or soak in a disinfectant solution
Quarantine Exposed Animals
that have been exposed to monkeypox away from other animals and people,
even if they are not sick. This is called quarantine. Most animals that
have had contact with another animal known to have monkeypox must be placed
under quarantine for 6 weeks from the date they were last exposed. Your
health department may tell you about this exposure, or you may know of
such contact yourself. Contact includes 1) living in the same house, 2)
coming from the same pet store or other pet facility, or 3) being bought
or traded at an animal swap meet.
Follow Quarantine Instructions Carefully
If you believe
you have or know of an animal that has been exposed to monkeypox, call your
local or state health department
right away and follow these instructions for dealing with a quarantined
If you can't care for or keep an animal that has been exposed to monkeypox,
call your state or local health department for advice. They may tell you
to take animal to a vet or other official. Or they may recommend humane
euthanasia of the animal (i.e., putting it to sleep). In some cases, the
health department may come pick up the animal.
- Put the
exposed animal (in a cage, if you can) in a room with a closed door.
Keep it away from all other animals for 6 weeks from the date of exposure
or purchase. Be sure the animal has enough air and light.
one person feed the animal, give it water, and clean its waste.
the time spent with the animal. After any contact with the animal, wash
hands well with soap and water.
clothing is not needed when handling quarantined animals that have no
for signs of monkeypox illness in the quarantined animal or in the person
taking care of the animal.
- If the
animal seems sick, call your local
or state health department right away and follow instructions.
- If quarantined
animals are kept in a store (in a separate room, for example), keep
them away from people with HIV, cancer, or other diseases that affect
the immune system; pregnant women; and people who have had transplants
or who are undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy.
Watch Yourself for Signs of Monkeypox
If you have
been in contact with or have cared for a sick or quarantined animal, watch
yourself for signs of monkeypox. If you get a fever, rash, or other signs
of illness, call your health care provider and your local
or state health department right away. They will provide medical care
What You Should NOT Do
not take a sick animal to a vet without calling
first to let them know that the animal has been exposed to monkeypox.
not leave a sick animal at a shelter or release
it into the wild. The animal cannot survive and, if infected, it could
spread monkeypox to animals in the wild.
- If the
animal dies, call your state or local health department to find out
what to do with the body. Do not throw the
animal's body away in household trash or at a dump or landfill. Do not
bury the animal's body in your yard. Doing this could spread the disease
if the animal was infected.
Care of Animals by People Infected with Monkeypox
that have had contact with infected people are considered exposed to
monkeypox. The animals must then be put in quarantine.
- We do
not know if people with monkeypox can spread the disease to animals.
Therefore, they should limit their contact with animals such as cats,
dogs, hamsters, gerbils.
should not be allowed to share an ill owner's bed. Also, the owner's
clothing and other materials that may have touched skin lesions can
and bandages should be put in a secure container. Keep them away from
with monkeypox should practice good general hygiene (including hand
washing). They may choose to limit contact with animals until their
doctor says it's safe to resume normal activities. For further information
about infection control practices in this setting, see CDC's
information, call your state or local health department or the CDC Emergency
Operations Center, 770-488-7100.
information about pets and diseases is available at CDC's Healthy
Pets, Healthy People Web site.