Has the time come to re-instate quarantine and suspend the pet travel scheme as the ebola epidemic spreads?

Few people could  fail to be sorry to hear that Excalibur, the pet dog of a Spanish nursing assistant who contracted ebola, has been killed in the interests of public health.  It becomes even more heartbreaking to read about how his owners had left him with a bathtub full of water and 30 pounds of dry food when they were taken away to be quarantined.

One wonders whether any of the protesters or the people who signed the petition aimed at saving Excalibur had thought about what would happen to all of the other animals in the country if there was a full blown outbreak of ebola.  Here in the UK it is almost certain that ebola or even rabies would lead to mass culling of animals as a precaution.

It is known that dogs can pass ebola on to people.

Thus, dogs
appear to be the first animal species shown to be naturally
and asymptomatically infected by Ebola virus.
Asymptomatic Ebola infection in humans has also been
observed during outbreaks (18) but is very rare. Although
dogs can be asymptomatically infected, they may excrete
infectious viral particles in urine, feces, and saliva for a
short period before virus clearance, as observed experi-
mentally in other animals. Given the frequency of contact
between humans and domestic dogs, canine Ebola infec-
tion must be considered as a potential risk factor for human
infection and virus spread. Human infection could occur
through licking, biting, or grooming. Asymptomatically
infected dogs could be a potential source of human Ebola
outbreaks and of virus spread during human outbreaks,
which could explain some epidemiologically unrelated
human cases. Dogs might also be a source of human Ebola
outbreaks, such as the 1976 Yambuku outbreaks in
Democratic Republic of Congo (19), the 1995 Kikwit out-
break, some outbreaks that occurred in 1996 and 2004 in
Gabon and Republic of Congo (5), and the 1976 (6), 1979
(20), and 2004 (21) outbreaks in Sudan, the sources of
which are still unknown. Together, these findings strongly
suggest that dogs should be taken into consideration dur-
ing the management of human Ebola outbreaks. To con-
firm the potential human risk of Ebola virus–infected dogs,
the mechanisms of viral excretion (i.e. body fluids and
virus kinetics of excretion) should be investigated during
experimental canine infection. This research would also
offer insights into the natural resistance of dogs.
Considering the dangers of diseases like ebola and rabies perhaps DEFRA should consider re-instating quarantine and suspending the pet travel scheme.  Unless of course we are prepared to see mass slaughter and animals and people dying of untreatable diseases?
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