M is for Monkeypox

M is for Monkeypox

 

In June 2003, a disease suddenly sprung up in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The patients had fevers and rashes (Figure 2). Some had swollen lymph nodes, respiratory signs, sweats, chills, and/or headaches. One of the unusual things about this outbreak of disease, was that veterinary professionals were among the most common people affected. In fact, a portion of the  Wisconsin Veterinary Referral Center (WVRC) staff was placed in quarantine. The disease was a virus called monkeypox.

Monkeypox lesion

Monkeypox lesion

Prior to and since this outbreak, monkeypox had never been seen outside of Africa. A disease that was first noted in monkeys in 1958 and then seen in humans in 1970, it is generally spread from contact with infected animals (once again, be careful what you come in contact with if traveling in Africa!). While it is related to smallpox, monkeypox has not been eradicated and has less than 10% fatality rate, usually in young children. None of the humans infected in the 2003 outbreak died thankfully, but many prairie dogs did.

 

Prairie dog (www.wikipedia.org)

Prairie dog (www.wikipedia.org)

The story of the 2003 outbreak began in Illinois when an exotic animal dealer housed a group of prairie dogs near a Gambian pouched rat that had recently come to the USA from Ghana. The Gambian giant rat had traveled from Ghana to Texas and then was transferred to Illinois. Throughout this voyage, it had come in contact with 800 small animals of 9 species, many of which may have transferred the virus. The prairie dogs were then sold to dealers and individuals in the Midwest. Owners of the prairie dogs noticed that the prairie dogs were getting sick. The prairie dogs were then taken to the veterinarian (including WVRC). The owners, their families, and the veterinary professionals then began getting sick.

Gambian pouched rat

Gambian pouched rat

This situation brought home the reality of how easy it is for disease to spread around the world. Luckily, this was not a fatal event and it did not cause widespread terror. One of the side effects was that many municipalities and states began restricting the types of animals that can be kept as pets. Know your local legislation!

Wild animals should never be kept as pets, although you may be able to approximate their environment, you will never be able to provide appropriate food and stimulation for a  healthy animal.

Please consider the consequences of having a non-domesticated animal in your home. Not just legally for you, but physically and psychologically for that animal.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “M is for Monkeypox

  1. This is so scary. My son and his girlfriend want to buy a hedgehog when they get married. Sure, they’re cute, but I’m not so sure they aren’t ridden with disease. You’re right. It’s best to stick to domesticated animals.

    Like

    • Hedgehogs aren’t as bad as many others where diseases are concerned, but they do require special care and a lot of socialization if you want to be able to work with them. Finding a veterinarian that is comfortable working with them can also be a daunting task. Few people realize that although veterinarians are trained to work on many types of animals, unless they stay up to date on the care for specific species then they are not likely to be the best option. Just as I am not equipped to work on horses and cows any more (it has been a long times since I last worked on them!), many veterinarians are no longer equipped to work on pocket pets or other “exotic” species.

      Like

  2. I have never heard of MonkeyPox but assumed it was related, at the very least with pox from monkeys. Sad that it can be transferred so easily. And I did not know you could own a prairie dog (or ground squirrel as I called them in Idaho) as a pet. They terrified me at my first encounter, popping up from underground like they were spying on me. But now, they’re just too darned cute. Though, I probably would never own one. Just like I love the big cats, the sheer amount of work it takes to house, feed, and keep them happy is daunting. I will leave that to the zoos and rescues. No sense adding to the problem 🙂

    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    My A to Z
    Caring for My Veteran

    Like

    • Most people have not heard of it since it is generally only found in western and central Africa and doesn’t get the attention that diseases like Ebola do. As I said, a lot of places do restrict the ownership of wild animals. The weird thing is that you often can’t keep natives species, but you can keep non-native species (Example, you may not have a grey squirrel, but you could have a Gambian pouched rat). It can be hard to stay on top of what is and what isn’t allowed. Keeping wild animals is a daunting task. Few people know the requirements without special training. It is often those that think they know what they are doing that get injured or killed when it turns out they weren’t really as knowledgeable as they thought!!

      Like

  3. Well, the mysterious outbreakieness of this one almost makes up for the lack of detailed description of clinical signs on Ebola day.

    Like

    • I didn’t want to freak everyone out about black vomit and so forth. Hemorrhaging from every orifice is not really what most people want to read, although I could be wrong. Do you remember this from when we were in school?

      Like

    • It is amazing and terrifying when you look at the way disease spreads. If you study bioterrorism and see how quickly something can be spread around the world, it would make for more than just sleepless nights. Thanks for visiting, reading, and commenting!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s