UPDATE: They killed the dog.

UPDATE: I’m adding this here because it is my current post on Ebola. Thomas Eric Duncan, the person who became symptomatic with Ebola in Dallas, had died at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital (according to news alerts).

A nurse’s assistant in Spain caring for Spanish nationals returned with Ebola from West Africa contracted the disease, gaining the dubious distinction of being the first person to be infected with Ebola outside of that disease’s normal range in West Africa, Central Africa and western East Africa. There is speculation that she contracted the disease by contacting the outside surfaces of her own protective gear, which is exactly what I’ve speculated to be a likely cause of infection in health care workers. This is not certain, however.

Members of her family and others, including additional health care workers, are in quarantine. There is evidence that the hospital procedures were inadequate to keep a lid on Ebola in this context, and nurse’s unions and others are protesting and demanding change.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government has claimed that there is “scientific evidence” that dogs can transmit Ebola, so Excalibur, the nurse’s family dog, will be euthanized and incinerated. People have gone to the streets to safe the dog.

So, can dogs get, or transmit if they get it, Ebola? Short answer: Yes, and probably not. Here’s my thinking on this, and some information.

1) Pick a random species, or to make it easier, pick a random mammal, and test to see if it can transmit a disease known in humans. It is unlikely to be the case because diseases are to some degree adapted to exist in certain hosts, and host vary, well, by species. So it seems unlikely.

2) On the other hand, Ebola seems to be able to infect a very wide range of mammals. Ebola resides in multiple species of fruit bats (though maybe not uniformly or equally well). A range of mammals seen to be suitable intermediates between fruit bats and humans. The mammals known to be able to harbor Ebola are diverse. It isn’t like only primates can be infected. So, it seems quite possible.

3) On the third hand, I’ve never heard of dogs being addressed as an issue in the current crisis in West Africa or during prior outbreaks. One would think that if dogs were a concern this would have been mentioned by someone some time.

4) On the fourth hand, dogs in Central Africa are less likely to be house dogs, hanging around with the family on the couch, and more likely to be working dogs that spend all their time outdoors. A Spanish family pet may have hung around on the sick bed with an ill individual. I don’t know about dogs in West African cities. By the way, you have to go look to see what the story with dogs there is, and it may within that context. I’ve noticed that westerners tend to have a rather monolithic view of how humans “elsewhere” (especially the “third world”) relate to their dogs, based on a concept we hold of them, not based on actual knowledge. How dogs fit in with humans from place to place and time to time varies.

5) I’ve read a good amount of the peer reviewed literature on Ebola and I can not recall anything about dogs.

5) But … A quick check of Google Scholar did come up with one study. From the abstract:

During the 2001–2002 outbreak in Gabon, we observed that several dogs were highly exposed to Ebola virus by eating infected dead animals. To examine whether these animals became infected with Ebola virus, we sampled 439 dogs and screened them by Ebola virus–specific immunoglobulin (Ig) G assay, antigen detection, and viral polymerase chain reaction amplification. Seven (8.9%) of 79 samples from the 2 main towns, 15 (15.2%) of 14 the 99 samples from Mekambo, and 40 (25.2%) of 159 samples from villages in the Ebola virus–epidemic area had detectable Ebola virus–IgG, compared to only 2 (2%) of 102 samples from France. Among dogs from villages with both infected animal carcasses and human cases, seroprevalence was 31.8%. A significant positive direct association existed between seroprevalence and the distances to the Ebola virus–epidemic area. This study suggests that dogs can be infected by Ebola virus and that the putative infection is asymptomatic.

I’ve not looked further at the literature. This study suggests, unsurprisingly (see point 2 above) that dogs can harbor the virus. However, they don’t seem to be symptomatic. Therefore, spread from a dog seems unlikely. I would think the dog could be kenneled for a few weeks, rather than being put down.

Comments

  1. #1 daedalus2u
    October 8, 2014

    If they develop antibodies, then it might be that they don’t harbor the virus long term. They might be asymptomatic because they have cleared the virus.

    However, not enough is known to know if they are asymptomatic carriers or asymptomatic from having cleared the virus.

    Quarantining the dog doesn’t eliminate the possibility that it is an asymptomatic carrier. You could quarantine it with other dogs and see if they seroconvert. If they do, then it is still communicable. If they don’t, it might still be communicable to more susceptible species (like humans).

    There is good evidence that hyenas can be asymptomatic carriers of rabies.

  2. #2 jane
    October 8, 2014

    Governmental panic responses that have terrible consequences for the loved ones of people who are found to be sick have only one major effect: They increase the number of people who will hide their illnesses and try to take care of themselves, with family help, at home. If my spouse or I were infected, we would be willing to take the most drastic steps, to risk or even sacrifice one of our lives, rather than causing the World’s Best Cat to be hauled away by men in moon suits and killed without comfort. CDC is laudably not encouraging the slaughter of pets, but caging the Dallas case’s healthy relatives for several days in an apartment full of what they considered to be potentially infectious fomites was way too close to the medieval “board up the house” approach.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    October 8, 2014

    Yeah, I think they should have acted immediately to move the Dallas family to a reasonable location. How hard could that have been?

    Thomas Duncan just died, by the way.

  4. #4 jane
    October 8, 2014

    I just saw that on Salon. A sobering reminder that while good supportive care helps, it won’t save everyone – even relatively young and previously healthy people. Here’s hoping all of his family are safe.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    October 8, 2014

    Also, it brings up another question. Can American/Spanish/Whatever hospticals really give the best Ebola care?

    The assumption is they can because they are wonderful and advanced, and al you need is the Ebola Manual to adjust the wonderful advanced techniques.

    But I know for a fact this does not apply to Malaria. I have spent a lot of time interacting with US base tropical disease practitioners with little field experience, a lot of time with in field doctors in Malaria zones (in Zaire) or South African doctors who did stints in places with lots of Malaria (eg. Moz), and a vast amount of time as the only person or one of two running a clinic (on the side while doing research) where malaria was a daily issue (and a fair amount of time with the malaria being treated by various combinations of the above)

    I lost two colleagues (one a friend) to malaria because, I believe (and I am not alone in this at all, me and a lot of people including physicians think this) they were treated in the American system.

    Diseases don’t come with a handbook. Treating serious diseases is very tricky and expertise from experience is vitally important, even with a magic drug.

  6. #6 Brainstorms
    October 8, 2014

    “If my spouse or I were infected, we would be willing to take the most drastic steps, to risk or even sacrifice one of our lives …”

    I’m OK with that, as long as you take care not to risk the lives of the rest of us in the process.

    (Disclaimer: I have 3 of the “World’s Best Cat” myself, but I can’t live with the thought that I killed 3000 people trying to protect my pets from the men in moon suits.)

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    October 8, 2014

    Brainstorms, how about five people? (Just trying to calibrate here!)

  8. #8 Brainstorms
    October 8, 2014

    Given that those five would most likely be my family members…

    Sorry, kitties. We’ll be sure it’s quick & painless. :^(

  9. #9 jane
    October 8, 2014

    Brainstorms, this is something I considered at the time of Hurricane Katrina. You may remember that non-car-owning refugees were literally forced at gunpoint, under threat of summary execution, to throw their pets in the gutter like garbage and get on the evacuation buses. After seeing that, I decided that if I were in that spot, I would turn and walk away with our cat, because I would rather have her see me killed trying to save her than have her see me throw her away for no explicable reason. (We all have to die, but we don’t have to let ourselves be forced to betray a friend first.)

    Human lives are not of infinite value – that’s our foreign policy – and non-human lives are not of zero value, but we are expected to weigh the former more highly. And while the National Guardsmen involved deserved to die, the average citizens who are laughably claimed to be their masters did not. Therefore, as you say, in a comparable Ebola-related scenario protecting the public would have to be the highest priority.

    If my husband were sick in a pet-killing regime, he would stay at home even at the cost of foregoing possibly lifesaving care. I would stay with him, and avoid going out where I might spread virus. (We usually have several weeks of food at home, if you count all the beans.) If he died and I remained able to care for her, I would not report his death until her safety had been assured. If I knew the guys in moon suits would be going through the house no matter what, I’d self-quarantine for three weeks or try to survive the disease alone, then hide her with a friend before reporting.

    My disappearance would be harder to conceal for that long, so if I had a severe case in a pet-killing regime, I’d consider committing suicide in a way that would ensure my body wasn’t found for a long time (thus it would not be a threat to the public), leaving a suicide note that made no mention of disease. The hubby could drive me to a spot close to a suitable area, then go home and self-quarantine. It’s a measure of how deep his relationship with the cat is that I am pretty sure he would do that. The average powers-that-be may not care that much for their own pets, should they have any – but if they don’t take into account that some do, they will provoke very counterproductive responses in those who do and are less able than I am to self-quarantine. This Spanish nurse seems fortunately to have a relatively mild case, at least so far, but it sure can’t help her recovery to be alone in a locked room knowing that your faithful friend is alone in a cage waiting to get the needle.

    Finally, I note that some internet illiterati are already saying “oh, Us just have no choice but to save ourselves by deporting all brown people, isolating or outright massacring West Africans, etc. etc.” – IOW all the things they wanted to do last year on some other excuse. Likewise, some ranted in rage against the missionary doctors’ being brought back here and helped to survive – alleged Christians actively wanted Dr. Brantly to die, because he might give us all Ebola, because semen semen semen!!1! (I wanted to say, sweetie, just what is your line of work that you fear being exposed to strangers’ semen?) When you start killing nonhumans based on a purely hypothetical, at most minute possibility that they might be a source of risk, you very easily can proceed to savage measures against humans who are a known source of real risk – first outgroup members, who tend to be seen as not having fully human status (“two-legged animals” to quote some of our favorite allies) – but as panic increases, pretty much anyone who isn’t you. Holding a line that says we will not do anything that is not decent if it is not justified by known fact is the only way to stay out of that cultural death spiral.

  10. #10 Brainstorms
    October 8, 2014

    Jane, it seems you do understand the big difference between Katrina & an Ebola outbreak (i.e., pets/people in Katrina were in no way a trigger to a chain-reaction spread of a deadly virus).

    I understand the ties between pets & their owners, and have no issues with the lengths they’ll go to care for them, as long as –as you put it– “protecting the public would have to be the highest priority”.

    I think the “tipping point” where the spread of this overcomes the ability of any country’s “health care system” to contain it is precariously closer than we want to imagine. Social & cultural forces that come into play (and this might be one of them) that give Ebola an “assist” in spreading only brings that tipping point closer…

    I do hope that what are now culturally viewed as “savage measures” aren’t ever required to contain this — in any country. “When lack of political will meets up with cultural imperatives …”

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    October 8, 2014

    I suppose I could understand a procedure where national guard or other authorities carrying out an evacuation could just skip the people who want to stay home with their pets and die, but this can not apply to minors. In that case. let the dog out, shoot the parents, and save the kids. (as long as we are talking extreme untenable cases!)

    I don’t buy it, though, for the case of an infectious disease. I absolutely think the CDC or the Spanish authorities should put pets down for Ebola, or generally, though there are exceptions to that (well known historical ones that may not apply very often, like anthrax in a large scale ag setting, but those are not really pets). But I don’t think society at large should be asked to trust a person who really loves her cat to do the right thing on behalf of public health on the grounds that she really really loves her cat.

    I don’t really see this being an issue if the policy is simply to not automatically throw the pets in the incinerator. But if it came down to it, no, I don’t agree to deputize you, Jane, to make these public health decisions.

  12. #12 jane
    October 8, 2014

    When a pandemic gets to the point where people start thinking massacres are “required” to control it, it’s a dead certainty that massacres won’t control it. It’s never possible to wipe people out on that scale without having some fleeing refugees, who will scatter in every direction and have other reasons for poor health. The best shot you have is to get people to stay in place, which means making sure they are well fed and feel safe where they are.

    As for tipping points, yes. Given how little progress in improving care has been made in West Africa, even though the increase in infection rates seems to be slowing for the moment, I’ve heard there is real fear among certain agencies that the CDC scenarios are already more like best-case scenarios. Spain and the U.S. have to this point very minor problems indeed, but have each provided their citizens with reason to be afraid to report illness; the future consequences of that are hard to predict.

  13. #13 jane
    October 8, 2014

    Greg, what??? “Let the dog out, shoot the parents, and save the kids”? WTF? Why not “Drag the kids onto the bus, let the parent stay with the dog and let them be reunited after the water recedes and the parents find new housing”? Is the point, indeed, simply to keep the worker herd obedient by culling any that aren’t?

    In reading your second paragraph, I think you mean to say that you do NOT think the Spaniards should kill patients’ pets, and I agree. I also agree that individuals will not always rationally assess what is the best course of action when all parties’ interests are considered. But I also don’t believe that individuals have a moral obligation to comply with misguided and unnecessary policies just because they have a claimed “public health” rationale. If turning in my cat – or myself – to be killed could prevent a major epidemic, despite some qualms relating to overpopulation, I’d do it without hesitation. But I’d want to see some evidence first.

    Practically, you cannot expect that people will refrain from doing what is best for themselves and their loved ones because they haven’t been “deputized to make public health decisions.” Imagine, for example, that the government was so overwhelmed by an outbreak that their only treatment was to throw patients into a locked ward where 80% or more would die, while with careful full-time home-care, you might hope to achieve a 25% death rate, like that Liberian nursing student famously managed. One of your close family members gets sick, and you know that the authorities say you must turn him in. Do you? I sure wouldn’t.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    October 8, 2014

    Well, of course, but I assume the parents are armed. That woudl work too.

    The point is not about worker herd obedience. The point is about dealing with parents who love their cat more than they value the safety of their children, or who have the belief that humans should die to save their pets and impose that belief on the kids.

    No, clearly they should not kill Excalibur, and I agree that this is sending out a message that could cause people to act in appropriately.

    This is not about “just a proclaimed public health rational”. This is actual public health.

    I doin’t think the government would ever use the locked ward approach. More likely it would be the refugee camp outside of town and then you drop the oxygen sucking bomb on top of it.

    What is this 35% death rate by the Liberian nursing student thing?

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    October 8, 2014
  16. #16 jane
    October 8, 2014

    Almost half the American public is armed, though the rate is lower among poor urban people; that does not justify killing them on contact in a crisis situation. I would assume that people who love the pet enough to refuse to abandon it to a slow miserable death would also love the kid enough to put it on a bus out of town if local conditions were truly, imminently dangerous or no food was available. Most people with kids do care about them, and the quantity of love is not fixed such that if you love your pets more, you must have less love for your kids.

    Oxygen sucking bomb: yikes, horror movie stuff. Also justifying all future efforts by sick people to stay out of camps at any cost, if not actually to go down to the nearest government office building and lick the doorknobs.

    A young Liberian nursing student whose name I forget was featured on CNN. Four of her family members – parents, sister and teenage cousin – got sick, and since there was no room at local medical facilities she nursed them round-the-clock singlehandedly for almost two weeks. She got latex gloves and IV fluids through her medical contacts, and improvised personal protective equipment from trash bags, rubber boots and a raincoat. Several times a day, she went through an elaborate dressing routine, caring for the sick, then an elaborate undressing routine. By the time hospital beds became available, three of them were over the worst of it – the fourth died shortly thereafter – and she never got sick. Her father is now looking for money so she can finish nursing school. I should think so – this young lady will be a fantastic nurse. You can probably find the article by Googling. It was a great bring-tears-to-the-eyes story.

  17. #17 Craig Thomas
    October 8, 2014

    People who get over-emotional about the need to put down an animal have lost contact with reality.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    October 8, 2014

    On the Liberian woman, good for her, but that is not data, and that experience cant’ be used to suggest that a particular approach gets a better survival rate.

  19. #19 Brainstorms
    October 8, 2014

    The MSN article indicates that “Excaliburgate” must be taken quite seriously: It’s garnered more tweets than JUSTIN BIEBER…

    I’m thinking we should lead the charge against mighty Ebola with “The Beeb” himself: Exposure to the life-sucking effects of American Pop Culture should cause the virus to wither, shrivel in disgust, and lose its taste for humanity.

    Heck, let it watch prime-time TV, too… It’ll be more afraid of contact with us that we are of having contact with it.

  20. #20 L.Long
    October 8, 2014

    Do the same experiment they did for AIDs.
    Use ebola, infect some mammal. Fill the cage area with voracious mosquitoes and then put someone who claims mammals can’t transmit ebola into the cage let him get bitten by the bugs and his face and mouth licked by the mammal, and then see what happens. I’m sure you will get lots of volunteers who are sure its OK.

  21. #21 de de
    cleveland
    October 8, 2014

    pets are family, would you kill your brother

  22. #22 de de
    cleveland ohio
    October 8, 2014

    pets are family, would you put your family to sleep?

  23. #23 sailor
    October 9, 2014

    Craig it is clear you have never gotten close to a dog, it could be you also don’t form relationships with humans, I do not know. In any case many pet owners treat their pets as parts of the family and form strong attachments to them. The reason we don’t want to kill them unless it it is really necessary is not that that the dog will suffer, if done properly it wont, it is so the owner, who is probably already highly stressed, will not suffer extra unnecessary pain.

  24. #24 daedalus2u
    October 9, 2014

    The problem with trying to save a dog (likely) infected with ebola is that ebola is a select agent that can only be handled in BSL-4 level facilities.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosafety_level#Biosafety_level_4

    There are no BSL-4 facilities in Spain.

    You can’t just take the dog to a kennel, unless the kennel is in a BSL-4 facility. Any other dogs the exposed one it exposed to need to be treated the same way, until it is either determined that the dog is not capable of spreading ebola, or until it is determined that it is capable of spreading ebola. This is likely a time frame of months.

    An infected dog might be more dangerous than an infected human because dogs don’t seem to be debilitated by the disease. A debilitated human isn’t running around spreading virus the way an infected non-debilitated dog might.

    The time to make decisions like this is before they happen, and allocate resources in a timely manner to deal with them appropriately if they do happen. In Texas, many people do not have access to health care because they lack insurance.

    During Katrina, there was the issue of pets not being allowed in shelters. What about people who are allergic to cats (as I am), or to dogs or parrots? Shelters could be made with sufficient air filtration equipment such that people allergic to pets might not have that hard a time, but they are not.

    The decision to not allow pets in evacuation vehicles and emergency shelters was made when the size and configuration of those places was decided and funding for them allocated.

  25. #25 jane
    October 9, 2014

    Craig, aside from the fact that there is no evidence of “need” in this case, you sound like someone who is unaware that he is himself an animal. I would not consider it acceptable to kill an African gray parrot or an orca (except an enslaved one who might welcome it) to protect humans from putative risk. They have similar lifespans and similar capacities for consciousness and complex social relationships, so in my book, they count as people. (Those who reject this out of hand should consider the similarity of their rhetoric to that of those who deny the personhood of other past human species, or of other current human races.) I see other intelligent animals as falling somewhere in a gray zone of “semi-personhood”. A dog has a shorter lifespan and (apparently) less mental and social life than we do, so when a dog dies prematurely, much less is lost than when a human dies prematurely. But that does not mean that nothing of meaning or value is lost. Killing a nonhuman animal is not like breaking a piece of furniture.

    L.Long, then I’m sure you agree that Ebola is airborne because it can be spread by air when you artificially infect pigs and cage them with monkeys. Whether something “can” be forced to happen under artificial conditions is no evidence of whether it happens in real life. As for the mosquito question: some blood-borne viruses can “live” in mosquitoes; many can’t. Since West Africa is famous for its mosquito and malaria concentrations, I presume that mosquitoes do not spread Ebola in real-world conditions. If they did, there would be a hundred thousand randomly distributed cases by now and “contact tracing” would be meaningless.

    daedalus2u, I am unsure why you think that this dog was “likely” exposed, much less infected; that asymptomatic dogs would be capable of spreading the virus indefinitely; or that it would take “months” to find this out. The nurse’s incarcerated husband asked plaintively, “Are they going to put me to sleep too?” Good question, but there is a way of ensuring that they don’t. The American patients were not freed from isolation until they had no live virus in their blood. It would be equally possible to test a dog’s blood for live virus.

    Though there’s no need to wait “months” for that test to be informative, the dog could have been left alone in the house for weeks before being tested. The husband left out a large amount of food and water so that the dog would survive if not cared for. If the dog got sick within three weeks, he could have been presumed infected and put down. If he didn’t, he would likely have been fine, but could have been tested as a precaution. (By that point the nurse might well have recovered enough to be freed and could have done the blood draw on her own dog, if nobody else wanted to do so even with PPE.)

    Yes, doing lab work for pets has costs. Refusing to do it and insisting on killing pets who are almost certainly no threat to anyone has costs as well. One of those is encouraging sick people to hide their illnesses from the government.

  26. […] dog might have it too. It’s not clear whether dogs can get or transmit Ebola, though there is some vague evidence that they are at least at risk, so in theory there was some justification for the execution of an […]

  27. #27 Steve S
    Portland, Oregon
    October 9, 2014

    “… 40 (25.2%) of 159 samples from villages in the Ebola virus–epidemic area had detectable Ebola virus–IgG, compared to only 2 (2%) of 102 samples from France.”

    2% of French dogs have signs of Ebola. That needs explaining, but I haven’t seen any discussion.

  28. #28 Greg Laden
    October 9, 2014

    It is not an exact test. There are a few ways to get a positive, including common immune responses to multiple effects and no-specificity of the assay. The French dogs are a control. So, in the absence of Ebola we would expect to see a small incidence of positive tests (turns out around 2%).

  29. #29 L.Long
    October 9, 2014

    As far as I can tell from various sources no one knows yet about pet spreading ebola.
    As far as pets are concerned IF it is shown that they can catch and spread ebola, putting it down is no problem.
    And IF I should catch ebola?? My family would not need to worry too much as I would never go near them again or until it is cured. In fact I’ve already decided that if I got an incurable terrible disease I would be dead before the problem became to great.
    So YES pets are no problem, & if they are for you than it sucks to be near you because as your kid I’d like to think I’m more important then some dog or cat.

  30. #30 Brainstorms
    October 9, 2014

    “IF it is shown that they can catch and spread ebola, putting it down is no problem.”

    Um, I think many pet owners are disagreeing with that… That seems to be the issue at hand. They see it equivalent to “IF it is shown that their kids can catch and spread ebola, euthanizing them is no problem.”

    If pets can transmit Ebola, this is a serious problem. From my #10, ” Social & cultural forces that come into play (and this might be one of them) that give Ebola an “assist” in spreading only brings that tipping point closer…”

  31. #31 Brainstorms
    October 9, 2014

    Re: “Ebola is airborne because it can be spread by air when you artificially infect pigs and cage them with monkeys.”

    This is problematic, unless video of the two was recorded the entire time and scanned carefully. Primates love to throw things, including bodily products. (Wonder why the chimp cages at the zoo have plexiglass between you & them? They have no qualms about flinging excrement…)

    I have to wonder if “the monkey” had the ability to, and did, fling infectious material at “the pig”, which caused that infection. Does anyone have more information there?

    Quibble: Viruses are never “live”; they’re either virulent or inactivated. They’re just collections of organic molecules that happen to have a characteristic of being able to make cellular reproductive mechanisms go awry (when undamaged and virulent) that results in those (live) cells making copies of the virus particles. They can’t be “killed”, only damaged to the point where this characteristic no longer applies (inactivated), or, in some cases, hobbled significantly (attenuated).

  32. #32 jane
    October 9, 2014

    L.Long – You’re not my kid, but since Ebola, when it is not fatal, naturally gets better – like any number of other sometimes fatal diarrheal diseases – I still hope that you won’t kill yourself if you get it. You wouldn’t shoot yourself if you got Lassa fever or cholera, I presume. This is not the Zombie Plague.

    Brainstorm – There is some right-wing loon elected official getting his 15 minutes right now by saying that any human who tests positive for Ebola should be immediately slaughtered. This seems a little extreme given that humans who recover are not perpetual spreaders of virus, like Typhoid Mary, but are cured. There are plenty of other life-threatening communicable diseases with a two- or three-week course for which he did not propose extermination. But those diseases are not associated 99.9% with black people. If a dog were a healthy permanent reservoir of potential contagion – not known ever to have happened – by all means, kill him. If he were sick with it, rather than let him barf virus all over the place, fine, kill him. Kill him just in case in some alternate universe he “might” somehow be a risk? Well, Mr. Wingnut has already shown where that sentiment leads.

    You can Google the pig-monkey infection study. I said that the PIGS were artificially infected with Ebola. The healthy monkeys caged in the same room then got sick. The pigs didn’t fling poop at the monkeys. However, pigs tend to express viruses in the lungs more than primates and to spray a lot of droplets when they breathe, so they are really good sources of aerosol transmission. Hence the various “swine flus”.

    As for “live” in quotes, it was being used as a verb, and that’s why I put it in quotes. For a lay audience, saying that a virus “lives” after ingestion by a mosquito is easy to understand, if technically incorrect. Hence the quotes.

  33. #33 Brainstorms
    October 9, 2014

    I caught my mistake right after pressing “Submit”… Oy.

    We (as a society/societies) will need to figure out how to effectively quarantine those who are infected so as to block transmission of this virus. The long incubation periods, ease of transmission via touch, high death rates, etc. all combine to make this a very nasty situation. Incinerating everyone who is suspected (or confirmed) to have it isn’t going to work, as you point out. But what we’re allowing now isn’t a good strategy either…

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    October 9, 2014

    When we say “disease X is airborne” we are implying “disease X is airborne within a given species”. The pig-monkey thing does not tell us that ebola is ariborne, but initially many weeks and now many months of field experience does tell us it is not.

    Regarding the dog, one does not have to wait to see if a dog has ebola. It can be tested.

  35. #35 daedalus2u
    October 9, 2014

    Jane and Greg no one knows what tests to do so as to determine if a dog is infectious or not.

    If the dog gets sick, it might be infectious, if the dog doesn’t get sick it might still be infectious. There isn’t a blood test to determine if someone or some animal is not infectious.

    I don’t doubt that things can be tested, and those tests will produce “numbers”, but what do those “numbers” mean? No one knows without data on exposures and disease course in dogs.

    The only reason that such things are approximately known for humans, is because lots of humans have been exposed, have gotten the disease, and then have recovered and have not been infectious to other humans.

    You have no way of knowing if this dog is “almost certainly no threat to anyone”. How many lives of which group of people are you willing to bet on your degree of certainty? How much are you willing to pay for the health care of people who might be exposed by this dog?

    They didn’t shoot the husband of the exposed woman. The woman got exposed taking care of another human. She is being taken care of by other humans who are risking their lives taking care of her.

    I don’t doubt that dog lovers could be found who would put up enough money to do so. The problem is why are people unwilling to put up that kind of money to take care of human beings?

    If the US had spent 0.1% of what Bush spent on Iraq on ebola treatment and research, there would be a vaccine for ebola and the outbreak in Africa would have been stopped.

  36. #36 jane
    October 9, 2014

    Ebola clearly isn’t airborne, but it’s not clear to what extent it might be aerosol-transmissible over short distances between humans. The head of the CDC says this is “theoretically possible”, and WHO is labeling prolonged close proximity (within 3′) in an enclosed space as a risk for infection.

    CDC is today starting to sound panicky even in public pronouncements. I have heard third-hand scuttlebutt, which I cannot verify, that some at CDC now believe that WHO has dropped the ball, and the U.S. Army is dropping it, so badly that a pandemic that will kill hundreds of millions or more is now all but inevitable.

    While we are on the subject of counterproductive right-wing responses, the infamous Sen. James Inhofe raises his ugly head. The military’s planned activities must be paid for by the transfer of funds formerly allocated to some other activity. I read a day or so ago that Inhofe was refusing to sign off on the bill that would do this until he received an explanation of how the administration could 100% guarantee that not one of Our Troops could possibly be exposed to Ebola during the effort. Though that seems an impossible bar to set, the administration said they would deliver that information within the week. (No bets on whether he can comprehend it, or will pretend not to believe any of it.) That’s another week in which the number of sick people can climb even higher above the already inadequate planned numbers of beds to be set up and workers trained. If there is a pandemic and Inhofe survives it, there just might be a people’s tribunal and a brick wall in his future.

  37. #37 jane
    October 9, 2014

    daedalus2u – I’ve got no quibble with the point that bombing poor people halfway around the world does less for our security than setting up public health infrastructure!

    However, though there may be no way of proving whether a human or animal IS infectious, it is possible to show whether he might be. Antibodies are present long-term in people who have fought off a disease, but no live virus continues to be produced in their bodies. We are told that patients treated in the U.S. were tested and confirmed to no longer have live virus in their blood before they were released. The virus would be the same in an infected dog’s blood as it would be in a human’s, so the same test could be used. An animal might in theory be a healthy long-term host for a virus but not able to spread it – and I don’t mind euthanizing him out of an abundance of caution – but if you’re not a host, you simply can’t spread it.

    The dog was confined to a house where nobody is now living. Nobody was coming in contact with him. How many humans would he have been endangering even if he had had an asymptomatic infection? None, as far as I can see. Supposing that his owners survived and returned home, and he tested negative at that time, there is no reason to expect that he would suddenly develop viremia months later. That is just not consistent with what is known about the natural history of this virus. Some people during the early days of the AIDS epidemic wanted to quarantine or kill gay people lest they get HIV from toilet seats, etc. “We just don’t know. We can’t bet our lives on it.” But there was no science whatsoever behind this argument, only fear and the obsession with purity and contamination that plays a strong role in certain strains of political thought.

  38. #38 daedalus2u
    October 9, 2014

    The house the dog was confined to was not a BSL-4 facility.

    Bats are the usual host species for ebola. There are lots of bats in Spain.

    What is needed in Africa to deal with ebola is mostly what is also needed to fight wars; that is logistics.

    Getting the right stuff where it is needed at the right time and in a large enough quantity. That is what the US military could do, and even if they do nothing else that would be a gigantic contribution.

  39. #39 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    October 9, 2014

    I’m with daedalus. While you could kennel the dog until he’s believed to be free of the disease, a) we don’t know for sure if dogs have the same incubation period and b) where would you kennel the dog? You can’t keep it at home, for the same reason the humans aren’t being kept at home, and there’s no kennel or vet office that would be willing to take a dog who might have Ebola. It seems cruel, but honestly I can’t imagine a good alternative to what Spain decided to do in this case.

  40. #40 Greg Laden
    October 9, 2014

    There are probably 200,000 dogs that have been in proximity of Ebola patients. This is the first time anyone, including WHO and CDC though it necessary to put one down.

  41. #41 daedalus2u
    October 9, 2014

    Yes Greg, but this was the first instance of a dog not in the normal range of ebola being possibly exposed to ebola. There are other potential vectors of ebola in Spain. Bats are known vectors, and pigs are potential vectors. Maybe it is unlikely that ebola would transfer to bats and become endemic in Europe. How unlikely does that have to be before you would consider it unnecessary to euthanize a dog that was a potential vector?

    Europe has embraced the Precautionary principle in regards to GMOs (naively and stupidly IMO). Not euthanizing this dog is (IMO) a greater risk than GMO maize.

  42. #42 Craig Thomas
    October 9, 2014

    Jane says,
    October 9, 2014
    Craig, aside from the fact that there is no evidence of “need” in this case, ”

    You demonstrate you have failed to understand the facts explained above.
    It is known that many different mammals including dogs can carry Ebola.
    Ebola is very very deadly.
    This dog has been exposed to Ebola and may be carrying it.
    The “need” is firmly established, but you are in denial due to an emotional response.

    “you sound like someone who is unaware that he is himself an animal. ”

    You seem to be having trouble differentiating between humans and non-humans. Emotion masking reason.

    “I would not consider it acceptable to kill an African gray parrot or an orca …to protect humans from putative risk.

    You’re demonstrating very poor risk management decision-making abilit and a failure of ethics, apparently caused by being over-emotional.
    Of course it is perfectly reasonable to kill the last of the Dodos, if that would save somebody’s life.

    This is exactly how evil enters the world – people with extremely warped views end up in a position to make bad decisions that affect others.

  43. #43 Brainstorms
    October 9, 2014

    Is it just me, or is all this speculation about Ebola starting to eerily resemble the plot of “John Carpenter’s The Thing”??

    (That film –one of the few that has ever given me “the willies”– even started out with a DOG being a suspected carrier…)

  44. #44 jane
    October 10, 2014

    daedalus2u and Calli – The nurse is in the hospital because she needs medical care. Her husband could just as well have been quarantined at home – alone, where he could have infected nobody except in some people’s imaginations his dog – until and unless he developed possible symptoms. He is confined in a hospital only because the Spanish authorities are so frightened of the coming plague that they view potential victims as threats first and human beings second. The house where the American case’s relatives are confined is not a BL-4 facility, and even if one of those relatives should indeed be infected, CDC does not seem to think that the virus will magically float out of the house and infect people walking down the street.

    Craig, you demonstrate that you fail to understand what a “fact” is; your opinions are not facts, nor are your fears. Indeed, there are differences between humans and non-humans, but it is reason that tells me that an animal whose cognitive abilities may be equal to my own – orcas, say, are inferior to humans when it comes to tool use and genocide, but superior in other cognitive domains – has similar inherent value. There are some who would happily kill a dozen orcas, or even exterminate the species, if it would save “one precious human life.” Such an extreme posture is clearly motivated by “emotion”, and it is frequently the emotion of believing that they are created in their deity’s image and orcas are not. If that is not the case in your particular instance, of course, I apologize for any suggestion to that effect.

    The attitude that it is okay for humans to do anything whatsoever to animals if it is alleged to perhaps possibly profit any human, and “evil, warped and a failure of ethics” to object, has already caused more than a little harm to humans – among the least of these, at least so far, is the fact that forest clearance causes viruses like Ebola to spread to humans more often – and it promises to do more. The living ecosystems that it would be “warped” to try to protect are in fact our source of sustenance, and once we have destroyed them, we will find that we can’t eat oil shale.

    Also, I point out that there are those who would kill a dozen, or a thousand, Africans if it might save one white Uh-merican life. You can go to any of hundreds of websites and find some turkey bellowing demands that victims should be killed, if indeed their whole communities not exterminated. Once you make My Ingroup First your sole guiding value, especially if you have an ignorant and short-term view of what your ingroup’s interests might be, there is little you won’t do.

  45. #45 Kimelle Krishnalall
    April 3, 2015

    I do believe that putting the dog down was drastic, considering we have no proof that they can transmit the virus. do you think that if evidence suggesting that they can transmit the virus wa found that it would lead to the mass killing of dogs in parts of Africa strongly effected by Ebola?
    u15008526

  46. #46 Tiara padayachee
    April 15, 2015

    is it right to assume that an animal has a disease without conducting the correct experiments? i agree that it was wrong of putting an innocent dog down because of an assumption. for something of that degree to be done enough evidence should be provided!

  47. #47 natalia moodley
    April 15, 2015

    Without substantial proof assumptions on the dog being infected should not have been made .I think there should have been a proceedure to follow to confirm the assumption (15090478)

  48. #48 Shayuri R Deepak
    April 15, 2015

    Interesting theories on what caused the conflict between the dinosaurs .The theory on dinosaurs fighting over their mates is quite fascinating but there is the possibility of the bite marks being caused because of competition for food and their territories. According to Charles Darwin and his theory of Natural Selection , competition between the species is normal. I noticed that you did mention inter-specific and intra-specific competition and I agree.

    (15112315)- shayuri

  49. #49 Shayuri R Deepak
    April 15, 2015

    I agree with that the decision made was very harsh and it was drastic. There is no proof or evidence stating that the dog was infected so there is a possibility that an innocent dog was killed. There is also no proof of dogs transmitting the Ebola Virus . I agree with you Kim and it is very concerning if you consider the mass murder of dogs in Africa

    (15112315)

  50. #50 Trishika Parhalad
    April 15, 2015

    I find this to be very harsh and demeaning. I did not hear or see any other case of this sort. I do not think that dogs could transmit Ebola and if they can, where is the evidence?

  51. #51 Trishika Parhalad
    April 15, 2015

    I find this to be very harsh and demeaning. I did not hear or see any other case of this sort. I do not think that dogs could transmit Ebola and if they can, where is the evidence?
    (15101313)

  52. #52 Shayuri R Deepak
    April 15, 2015

    i agree completely , there was no evidence and such a drastic move was not necessary