Ebola-Stricken Medical Worker’s Dog at Risk of Euthanasia

Update: Dylan Stableford reported on Yahoo News that despite protests from animal rights groups, Excalibur has been put down as of Wednesday afternoon. Many will feel this loss. We can only hope that as knowledge of Ebola progresses other people and dogs can be spared.

This week, a Spanish nurse’s aide became infected with the Ebola virus, reports NBC News. This is the first suspected case of Ebola that was contracted outside of West Africa. Exposure was thought to occur after she worked with a Sierra Leone-based missionary, who was flown to Madrid for treatment (but later died of Ebola)1. Since then, there has been panic in Spain, due to the risk of a possible countrywide Ebola outbreak and further exposure to the European Union. According to, this case has even affected Spain’s stock market and tourist industry (including the airline and hotel industry). Unfortunately, this panic has spread to even our four-legged friends, and the potentially fatal debate of whether or not to euthanize “at-risk” dogs exposed to Ebola.

Madrid’s government says it will euthanize dog exposed to Ebola
Earlier this week, Madrid’s government said that it would euthanize Excalibur, the dog of the affected worker, to prevent possible zoonotic spread of Ebola1. This has resulted in public outcry about the euthanasia of this 12-year-old dog, mixed breed dog.

Since then, Javier Limón, husband of the affected nurse’s aide and one additional Spaniard nurse have been moved into isolation. That left the dog alone. Currently, Excalibur is isolated at home. He was left with access to plenty of water and food (Javier left 33 pounds of dog food out for the dog!). The terrace is open so the dog can urinate and defecate, while never leaving the house1.

Thankfully, animal lovers have responded with an online petition and social media blast to help save Excalibur (follow it on Twitter here at #SalvemosaExcalibur). In addition, protestors have been camped outside of Excalibur’s home to bar government entry1.

Should this dog be euthanized to prevent the spread of Ebola?
While this virus can be found in many animals (including birds, bats, pigs, rodents, primates, and dogs), the likelihood that dogs spread the disease is very low. Dogs can harbor (i.e., carry) the virus, but are not thought to be affected by it. That said, dogs can potentially spread the disease to humans through bodily fluids (such as licking or biting a human, or through urine or fecal contamination). Dogs can clear the infection at which point they no longer are thought to be infective. (As for cats, there are no reported infections of Ebola in the felid species, so our cats are likely safe!). One study found that dogs do develop antibodies to Ebola, but are likely to be asymptomatic2. For more on the risks of Ebola in pets click here.

Unfortunately, scientists (including medical doctors, virologists, and veterinarians) must learn a lot about Ebola in a short span of time. Right now, the spread of Ebola through dogs is unlikely to be an issue; rather, quarantine in Excalibur’s case may be warranted at this time while further studies are conducted.

Protect yourself and your pets from Ebola
While we wait to see how Excalibur’s situation resolves, I encourage you to follow these simple hints:

[Editor’s Note: The CDC says that the chances of an Ebola outbreak in the US remain very low. We are also not aware of any current Ebola cases in dogs in the US.]

  • Make sure to avoid contact with stray dogs – or any dog you don’t know – to minimize bodily fluid or bites!
  • Keep your dog indoors, or supervised outside on a leash at all times. Rarely, Ebola virus is thought to be transmitted by scavenging and eating infected tissue. Obviously, this kind of scavenging is rare in the European Union and US, but can be a source of contamination of African dogs that assist in hunting “bush meat” (e.g., primates).
  • Don’t panic. The likelihood of transmission to or from dogs is extremely rare.

In this case, Excalibur did indeed have high exposure to the Ebola virus (an infected pet guardian), but the dog doesn’t appear to be showing clinical signs at this time. Hopefully, we can avoid the drastic measure of euthanasia by quarantining. Worldwide culling (i.e., killing) of dogs isn’t the answer – rather, appropriate quarantine is imperative.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Reviewed on:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2nd Patient Who Tested Positive For Ebola Is A 26-Year-Old Nurse

KERA has confirmed that the nurse who’s tested positive for Ebola is Nina Pham, a 26-year-old graduate of Texas Christian University who also attended Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth.

Two family friends confirmed her name with KERA, as did her high school.

Officials say Pham wore protective gear as she cared for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after he was diagnosed with Ebola and put in isolation. He died last week.

The graduate of Texas Christian University's nursing school was monitoring her own temperature and went to the hospital Friday night as soon as she found out she was running a low fever. She's now in isolation and in stable condition. It's the first known case of Ebola being transmitted within the U.S.

2:52 p.m.: Federal health authorities are telling the nation's hospitals to "think Ebola"

Federal health authorities are telling the nation's hospitals to "think Ebola."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden is urging hospitals across the country to watch for patients with fever or symptoms of Ebola who have traveled from the three Ebola-stricken African nations in the past 21 days.

He spoke Monday after a health care worker in Dallas became the first person to catch the disease within the United States. She had treated a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died at the hospital after bringing the disease from Liberia.

The CDC is now monitoring all hospital workers who treated Duncan. Frieden says he wouldn't be surprised if another hospital worker who cared for that patient when he was very sick becomes ill. Ebola patients become more contagious as the disease progresses.

The health care worker who contracted Ebola remains in stable condition, federal officials said Monday.

“I feel awful that the health care worker became infected in the care of the Ebola patient,” Frieden said at a press conference.

Hospitals across the country have to be on alert, he said.

“We have to rethink the way we treat Ebola infection control,” he said. “Even a single infection is unacceptable.”

The health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, identified as a nurse by many media outlets, became the first person to catch Ebola within the United States. She had treated a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died at Presbyterian after bringing the disease from Liberia.

Watch Monday morning's CDC press conference from PBS

2:42 p.m.: Officials will look after health care worker's dog

Some are wondering what's happening with the infected health care worker's dog. It was mentioned during Monday morning's CDC press conference.

“We want to make sure we … find a location where we can care for the dog and have proper monitoring for the dog,” said Dr. David Lakey, the Texas health commissioner.

On Sunday, city officials reported the dog was scared, but was being given food and water.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told USA Today that there were no plans to euthanize the dog.

"The dog's very important to the patient and we want it to be safe," Rawlings told USA Today.

Bloomberg reports that dogs are able to carry the virus -- and that researchers say canine infection "must be considered as a potential risk factor for human infection and virus spread."

"We just felt the dog is very important to this hero of a health-care giver and we’re going to do anything we can to help,” Rawlings told Bloomberg. The dog will be moved from the house to a safe location and be cared for by the city, he said. “I believe the pet hasn’t caught anything.”

From The Associated Press: Texas officials say they're trying to find an appropriate place to monitor a dog that belongs to a nurse diagnosed with Ebola.

The nurse's Dallas apartment is being thoroughly cleaned after tests over the weekend confirmed she is infected. A Dallas spokeswoman says the city will make sure the dog is cared for.

There was an uproar in Spain after Madrid authorities euthanized a dog named Excalibur that belonged to a nursing assistant sickened by the virus. She remains hospitalized. Authorities were concerned the dog might be harboring the virus.

1:48 p.m. New Ebola screening at JFK airport flagged 91 travelers

NPR reports: "Newly instituted screening procedures at New York's JFK International airport identified 91 arriving passengers as having a higher risk of being infected with Ebola based on their recent travel, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said Monday. None of the airline passengers had a fever, Frieden said, noting that of five people who were sent for further evaluation, none were determined to have Ebola. .

"Frieden said the airport screenings at JFK are part of the agency's plan to stop the disease he said that screenings will be instituted at four other airports – in Atlanta Chicago Newark, N.J. and Dulles, Va. — by Thursday."

1:24 p.m.: CDC chief says: "The enemy here is a virus. . It's not a hospital. It's a virus."

Texas Health Presbyterian released a statement to the media that highlights some of CDC chief Dr. Tom Frieden's remarks at this morning's CDC press conference:

Frieden told reporters: "I want to clarify something I said yesterday. I spoke about a 'breach in protocol' and that's what we speak about in public health when we're talking about what needs to happen and our focus is to say, would this protocol have prevented the infection? And we believe it would have. But some interpreted that as finding fault with the hospital or the health care worker. And I'm sorry if that was the impression given. That was certainly not my intention.

"People on the front lines are really protecting all of us. People on the front lines are fighting Ebola. The enemy here is a virus. Ebola. It's not a person. It's not a country. It's not a place. It's not a hospital. It's a virus. It's a virus that's tough to fight. But together, I'm confident that we will stop it. What we need to do is all take responsibility for improving the safety of those on the front lines.

"I feel awful that a health care worker became infected in the care of an Ebola patient. She was there trying to help the first patient survive and now she has become infected. All of us have to work together to do whatever is possible to reduce the risk that any other health care worker becomes infected."

1:15 p.m.: In health care worker's neighborhood, residents remain calm

KERA’s Lauren Silverman visited the M streets neighborhood where the health care worker lives and filed this report:

It was business as usual Monday morning in the East Dallas neighborhood where the first patient to get Ebola lives.

Garbage trucks picked up trash and large oak branches knocked down by Sunday night’s storm. People walked their dogs, and pushed strollers past brick houses decorated with Halloween spider webs.

Neighbor Tommy Hicks says the Ebola situation isn’t scary.

“Not scary at all really,” he said. “We’re not in any way frightened by the disease. It’s incredibly hard to get, and I feel completely safe in our neighborhood.”

That’s partly because the city of Dallas responded fast to the news of a second infection.

“I don’t think they knew what they were dealing with the first time around,” Hicks said. “This particular incident -- I can’t imagine them doing it any better than they have.”

Within an hour of finding out a neighbor had Ebola on Sunday morning, Hicks was shaking hands with the Dallas mayor, Mike Rawlings, with his wife and baby in the front lawn. The city had already blanketed doorsteps with information packets about Ebola and made calls to houses within a four block radius of the contaminated apartment.

At the nearby Café Brazil general manager Joshua Lloyd helped clear plates of migas and eggs. He said business hadn’t slowed down since the news.

“We got really busy in here on Sunday,” he said.

Lloyd also lives in the neighborhood and says he’s not worried.

“I know they were knocking on neighbors’ doors, making them aware of the situation so that no one was freaking out, and I think they did it properly,” he said.

11:20 a.m. Nurses union calls for hospitals to boost Ebola protection for health care workers

The largest U.S. nurses organization is calling on hospitals to step up the way they protect their workers as they treat Ebola patients.

National Nurses United is calling for hospitals to have in place the “highest standard of optimal protections.” That includes Hazmat suits and hands-on training to protect nurses and other hospital personnel.

“There is no standard short of optimal in protective equipment and hands-on-training that is acceptable,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, in a statement.

“Nurses and other frontline hospital personnel must have the highest level of protective equipment, such as the Hazmat suits Emery University or the CDC themselves use while transporting patients and hands on training and drills for all RNs and other hospital personnel. That includes the practice putting on and taking off the optimal equipment.”

Original post: Following Ebola infection, Health officials monitoring Presbyterian workers

Health officials are intensifying the monitoring of Dallas hospital workers who provided care to the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. after one of them was infected with the virus despite wearing protective gear.

Tests confirmed the first known case of Ebola transmitted in the nation, raising questions about assurances by health officials here that the disease will be contained and any American hospital should be able to treat it.

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Sunday there had been a breach of protocol that led the worker to become infected while treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan, but officials are not sure what occurred. Duncan, who traveled from Liberia to visit family, did not get sick until he arrived in the U.S. He died Wednesday.

The worker, who has not been identified, has not been able to point to how the breach might have occurred.

President Barack Obama asked the CDC to quickly investigate the incident, the White House said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was asked on ABC's "Good Morning America" if federal health authorities should consider requiring that Ebola patients be sent only to highly specialized "containment" hospitals.

"That is something that should be seriously considered," Fauci said.

Texas health officials have been closely monitoring nearly 50 people who had or may have had close contact with Duncan after he started showing symptoms but before he was diagnosed with the disease.

The health care worker reported a fever Friday night as part of a self-monitoring regimen required by the CDC.

Another person described as a "close contact" of the health worker has been proactively placed in isolation.

"We knew a second case could be a reality, and we've been preparing for this possibility," said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. "We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread."

Frieden said officials will monitor any workers who may have been exposed while Duncan was in the hospital.

Among the things the CDC will investigate is how the workers took off protective gear, because removing it incorrectly can lead to contamination. Investigators will also look at dialysis and intubation - the insertion of a breathing tube in a patient's airway. Both procedures have the potential to spread the virus.

How to take off protective gear

The CDC has produced a poster explaining how to properly put on and take off protective gear:

On Sunday evening, crews worked to decontaminate the hospital worker's apartment in the M Streets in Dallas.

Removal of hazardous waste now taking place.

— Dr. Sana Syed (@SanaSyedKI) October 12, 2014

10:20 a.m.: Second Dallas Ebola patient graduated from TCU

The Presbyterian health care worker who’s infected with Ebola graduated from Texas Christian University in 2010. An email with the news was sent to students and faculty Sunday night, reports TCU360, a student publication. The worker graduated from the university’s BSN nursing program, TCU360 says.

The Dallas Morning News produced a profile of the health care worker: "The Dallas health care worker hospitalized as the first person to contract Ebola in the U.S. was praised by friends Sunday as a big-hearted, compassionate nurse devoted to caring for others."

9:30 a.m. Louisiana tries to keep Ebola waste out of state

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says he will take legal action to stop the incinerated personal belongings of a Dallas Ebola victim from being disposed of in a landfill in Calcasieu Parish.

Buddy Caldwell said in a news release late Sunday night that he plans to ask for a temporary restraining order on Monday preventing any of the wastes from entering Louisiana.

Caldwell says the health and safety of Louisiana citizens is his top priority.

Caldwell says the waste will not consist of the belongings themselves, but rather the incinerated remains of six truckloads of items that could have been contaminated by Thomas Duncan when he fell sick.

Duncan died Wednesday at a Dallas hospital.

Ebola in Dallas: A Timeline

Here's a look at some of the main events over the past several weeks. Hover over the right-hand side of the timeline to advance it.

Ebola and Animals – at Home and West Africa

It was heartening to learn that Bentley, the dog of Dallas nurse Nina Pham, has tested negative for the Ebola virus, and to know that Ms. Pham’s condition has also improved. Bentley is still in quarantine and awaiting further tests. To their credit, Dallas authorities, including Dallas Animal Services with help from the Veterinary Emergency Team at Texas A&M University, have handled Bentley’s situation with transparency, care and poise. They avoided the unfortunate scenario that played out in the case of a Spanish nurse diagnosed with Ebola, María Teresa Romero Ramos. Her dog, Excalibur, was euthanized in Spain amidst great protest and with no effort to evaluate his condition.

In recent days, as the Ebola epidemic has intensified in West Africa, a number of nations have mobilized to send medical personnel and supplies to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, where the need for such assistance is acute. Thousands of people are dead already, often after protracted suffering. And the next few weeks will prove decisive in the struggle to contain Ebola’s spread and shore up the medical care systems in these three countries, amongst the poorest in the world.

Through Humane Society International, we’ve supported and worked with animal protection organizations in the region over the years, and we’re well aware of their vital contributions to animals in need. These groups have been seriously affected by Ebola’s terrible toll on both the human and animal populations in the zone of impact. The crisis has disrupted their normal operations and supply chains, as well as placed many animal care workers at personal risk. Notwithstanding, they are doing their best to carry out needed relief and direct care work.

Earlier this week, Humane Society International made grants to two groups working to help animals in Sierra Leone. One of them, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary outside Freetown, Sierra Leone, has been a vital bulwark against the many threats to wild chimpanzees in that nation, including deforestation, slash-and-burn agriculture, and the illicit pet trade, all of which continue to threaten their survival. TCS has also provided necessary refuge and care to nearly 100 orphaned, abandoned and mistreated chimpanzees in need. Sierra Leone, once a major exporter of chimpanzees, mostly for research, is now home to an outstanding sanctuary that is actively working in their defense. Sierra Leone and Guinea share an important border zone that provides crucial habitat for chimpanzees, and a few years ago, HSI worked with the Jane Goodall Institute on a successful project aimed at securing greater protection for them. TCS’s Bala Amarasekaran and his colleagues are heroes to all of us at The HSUS and HSI.

We’ve also sent emergency funds to the Campaign Against Cruelty to Animals to help bring relief to pets, street dogs and farm animals in need in the stricken West African nation. Together with the Sierra Leone Animal Welfare Society, led by long-time HSI collaborator Dr. Gudush Jalloh, a veterinarian, the CCA-SL is helping to provide food for animals in quarantined homes and villages in the southern part of the country. The two groups have already done so much to support animals and people who care for them, and we’re determined to support their efforts in the midst of the current emergency.

There is much more to be done in support of the people and the animals in West Africa, as the Ebola virus sweeps through the region, debilitating and killing both humans and animals. As the public health community seeks to halt Ebola’s spread, we are continuing to look for ways to support the work of animal protection in the affected areas.

Reports: Ebola patient gets blood transfusion

DALLAS — A Dallas nurse diagnosed with the Ebola virus over the weekend has reportedly received a blood transfusion from Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly.

The nurse is a Texas Christian University graduate identified by a family member as 26-year-old Nina Pham.

Father Jim Khoi, who is Pham's pastor, told News 8 that she has now received a blood transfusion from a "good" and "devoted" man who survived Ebola.

Sources close to Brantly told ABC News that he made the blood donation on Sunday after being asked by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Pham had been providing care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S.

Brantly was working with Ebola patients in Liberia when he fell ill in July. The Fort Worth physician was airlifted to an Atlanta hospital, where he recovered. He had previously provided his blood to at least two other Ebola patients.

Officials say the hospital asked him to donate blood to Duncan, but he was not a match.

Khoi said Pham is in good spirits, using Skype to communicate with her mom, and asking for prayers.

At a traditional Monday night Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Church, he asked for prayers and support for Pham. The family is a long time presence at the church.

Her family reached out to News 8 Monday morning and shared an image of the nurse, who grew up in Fort Worth.

A health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Pham became infected while treating Duncan, who died from the virus days before the nurse's diagnosis.

Pham graduated from TCU's nursing program in 2010 and is the first person to contract the disease while in the Unites States.

She was diagnosed with the virus after she reported a low-grade fever.

One person was identified to have been around Pham while she was potentially infectious. That person is under daily monitoring by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has showed no symptoms of the virus.

"The existence of the first case of Ebola spread in the U.S. changes some things, and it doesn't change other things," said Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, during a news conference Monday. "It doesn't change the fact that we know how Ebola spreads. It doesn't change the fact that it's possible to take care of Ebola safely. But it does change substantially how we approach it."

Frieden said change is necessary because "even a single infection is unacceptable."

The CDC continues to monitor 48 other people, 10 of whom were confirmed to have had contact with Duncan, who was diagnosed with Ebola after traveling from Liberia to Dallas. Frieden says none of the individuals being monitored have exhibited a fever or any other symptoms.

"This is consistent with what we know about Ebola — that people aren't sick when they don't have symptoms, and the sicker they get, the more infectious they may become because the amount of virus in their body increases," Frieden said.

Frieden added that the CDC is also monitoring other health care workers who treated Duncan while at Texas Health Presbyterian. The process of identifying all those who may have had contact with Duncan during his treatment is still underway.

"The team worked hard through the day yesterday into the night yesterday and are still actively working today to interview each one of the large number of health care workers who might potentially had contact with [Duncan] while he was hospitalized," he said.

Frieden says this is important as they haven't identified how Pham contracted the disease.

"So, we consider them to potentially be at risk and we're doing an in-depth review and investigation," he said.

The director of the CDC said his organization is also investigating the process in which Duncan was isolated and treated to determine how Pham became became infected. One focus of the investigation is how to safely handle equipment and protective gear used during and after the treatment of an infected patient.

"Because if it's contaminated, there's the possibility the worker will contaminate themselves," Frieden said.

After Pham's diagnosis, an additional crew was sent to assist with a CDC team already sent to Dallas after the diagnosis of Duncan.

Frieden also urged hospitals across the nation to "think Ebola," and watch for patients with fever or symptoms of the virus who have traveled from the three Ebola-stricken African nations in the past 21 days.

In an interview with WFAA Monday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the King Charles Spaniel named Bentley owned by Pham will not be killed.

"When I met with her parents, they said, 'This dog is important to her, judge Don't let anything happen to the dog," he said. "If that dog has to be The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, we're going to take good care of that dog."

Bentley has been moved to an undisclosed location and is under the care of Dallas Animal Services.

Family friend Tom Ha said Nina Pham is a "hero" to the Vietnamese-American community and that her family is devoutly Catholic with a strong desire to serve humanity and a history of serving the poor and sick.

On Sunday, Frieden said Pham apparently became infected through some breach in the protocol for caring for Ebola patients. On Monday, Frieden offered an apology to health care workers who complained that it sounded like he was blaming the nurse instead of questioning whether the protocols and training she received were sufficient.

"I feel awful that a hospital worker became infected taking care of an Ebola patient," Frieden said.

Meanwhile, Spain's Ebola patient remains in serious but stable condition Monday, with doctors cautiously hopeful she can recover.

Teresa Romero, 44, is also a nurse who contracted the virus while treating a Spanish missionary. Romero's dog, Excalibur, was euthanized last week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Spanish Nurse First Infected In Europe—And Even Her Dog’s Worried

As fears over a global pandemic of Ebola reach frightening levels, not only in Africa but in Europe and the Americas as well, news this morning of the first infection transmitted in Europe caused a massive effort by Spanish health officials as they try to isolate those possibly infected.

After discovering that a nurse's aide in Madrid had contracted Ebola while living in Europe, alarmed Spanish health authorities reacted forcefully as they aimed to quarantine her family and eliminate the risk of further transmission. And that means even her pet dog is a concern.

While Ebola has not been studied as to determine whether it has zoonotic properties between humans and canines, health officials requested a court order this morning to euthanize the nurse's pet dog for fear that he too could transmit the disease. But, the United States' Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are not on the same page.

"We have not identified this as a means of transmission" director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden said at a news conference held this morning, Oct. 7. But the director declined to comment on any of the particular actions taken by the Madrid officials.

While officials believe that the Spanish nurse, who has not been publicly identified, contracted the disease while treating two Ebola-stricken missionaries at Madrid's Carlos III hospital, no official report has been released as to how the transmission occurred in Spain. However, the European Union has demanded an explanation as to how the health worker could have become infected, and is asking that Spain address the questions as to why their crisis center was not up to code on safety protocols.

"Tomorrow morning we will have an audio conference call of EU's Health Security Committee" spokesperson for European Health Commission, Frederic Vincent says. "We will all listen very carefully to what the Spanish officials have to tell us on why the hospital was not ready for Ebola patients."

And while Spanish health officials are waiting to find out what their fates may be for dropping the ball on such a deadly pathogenic pandemic, the nurse is facing a lethal infection and her dog, a death sentence.

Watch the video: Assisted dying: what do nurses think? (June 2021).