|This is Teresa Ramos' dog Excalibur, euthanized today. (Photo: www.npr.org)|
Of course, all of us are watching the Ebola virus situation. CDC officials in the US claim that the virus is not airborne, and yet a cameraman working with Dr. Nancy Snyderman in Africa, is now fighting the virus here at home. No one is sure how he caught it. The Canadian and the French public health authorities believe that the virus has been proven to be airborne, at least in some strains, and they say so on their websites. The gentleman in a Texas hospital fighting Ebola has been reported to have died. (Yes, a second time. This was reported and then recanted a week ago, and now announced again today.) A nursing assistant in Spain who had only two minimal contacts with a Spanish priest who had been working in Africa, is also now also fighting Ebola. Her husband and about fifty other contacts are being quarantined and closely observed. Today, following a court order to do so, a van drove up to the nursing assistant's home, collected her dog and euthanized it. Apparently, no one knows whether a dog can spread Ebola, and Spanish public health officials weren't bright enough to study the situation and actually find out. Let's hope their decisions with regard to human public health are more intelligent than their moves with regard to veterinary public health. This sets a dangerous and concerning precedent. If this is allowed to continue, how long before some hot shot orders all the animals in Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia euthanized, and once again, we will never know whether animals are a good vector for this virus, or whether they are completely unaffected and can remain alive as food for survivors or even as companionship for those who are dying.
Although we cannot expect public health officials to perform each task perfectly, we should expect reasonable actions designed to protect the public, especially those which restrict travel across borders and in planes. I don't support the euthanization of animals who have not yet shown any indication of being able to act as a carrier for this particular contagion.
More complete information on this:
Our prior posts on the Ebola virus: