Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is rampant in multiple countries in West Africa. Ebola (as it is known as) shows up in humans with the following symptoms – fever, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting , stomach pain progressing to kidney failure and then the final stage which is the hemorrhagic stage. This is when one starts to bleed internally and eventually externally, leading to death. These symptoms most likely appear 2 to 21 days after being exposed to the ebola virus, with 8 to 10 days being the most common. Fortunately, some who become infected with the virus recover fully, but it is not know why they do and others don’t. The 2014 epidemic in Africa is a very serious situation as it varies from 50% to 90% cases being fatal.
Because the Ebola virus is zoonotic, it means the disease can be passed between different species. It affects humans, including primates such as monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas. The virus apparently originated in central Africa , and it is believed that it may have been originally spread through birds with African fruit bats being the main reservoir at present. Other animals such as pigs, porcupines, antelopes, rodents and DOGS have been documented with infections. (So far, no infections have been found in felines.)
Studies show that the virus is spread by direct contact with body fluids(saliva, vomit, blood, urine, feces and semen ) of people that have been infected. Needles and other medical instruments contaminated with the infected fluids are also responsible for spreading the virus and precautions must be taken to avoid this.
DOGS may pick up the Ebola virus after consuming infected meat or coming into direct contact with fluids such as feces, urine vomit which has been contaminated.
Because in Africa, dogs are generally used for hunting, are kept as outdoor pets and are not fed regularly they become infected after ingesting infected meat or coming in contact with contaminated fluids from infected people. There has been studies done, showing positive results of infection when testing thousands of blood samples for the Ebola antibodies in dogs.
Unfortunately, unlike humans the Ebola virus in dogs is asymptomatic . Dogs thus do not develop symptoms and can spread the disease to humans and other animals unknowingly. They do so through their saliva, tears, urine, feces, by grooming , licking and biting. Fortunately, once the virus is cleared from the dog it loses its potency and is no longer a danger to other primates.
In North America and other areas of the world, chances of contracting Ebola are low and because our lifestyles are very different, our rules are much more stringent in areas of sanitation, food production and general lifestyle our dogs along with other pets are very unlikely to come into contact with contaminated body fluids and therefore, there is a very high probability that they will never get Ebola.
What does this mean for you and your dog?
It means that the likelihood of your dog catching Ebola before you catch is very low. In the north american life style, you have a much higher risk of contracting Ebola than your dog. (And your likely hood of contracting Ebola is still extremely low)
So don’t worry about your dog giving you Ebola.