The suggestion featured as part of “last resort’ guidelines drawn up by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Rodents have already been identified as carriers of the disease in west and central Africa. It is understood that a cull could be ordered for hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs if they are unable to be isolated.
The ECDC said it is “theoretically possible” that Europeans could pass monkeypox on to their pets, which could then act as a reservoir and transmit it back to humans.
Their report said: “Currently, little is known about the suitability of European peri-domestic (mammalian) animal species to serve as a host for monkeypox virus.
“However, rodents, and particularly species of the family of Sciuridae (squirrels) are likely to be suitable hosts, more so than humans (see disease background), and transmission from humans to (pet) animals is theoretically possible.
“Such a spill-over event could potentially lead to the virus establishing in European wildlife and the disease becoming an endemic zoonosis.”
But the ECDC said this situation is very unlikely
According to MailOnline, the UK Government is close to drawing up similar guidance.
It comes as there are now believed to be around 90 cases of monkeypox in the UK, as the virus spreads through community transmission, with infections detected on a daily basis.
Across the world, 19 countries have now confirmed cases.
The virus, which is normally reported in central and West African countries, causes a rash and fever, but symptoms are mild for most people.
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“It is usually a mild self-limiting illness, and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.”
UK health officials are reportedly now working on developing a Covid-like dashboard to monitor the spread.
It signals a return to the intense scrutiny of daily cases of newly infected people, with analysis of infection times, hospital admissions, trends of the virus, and other data, studied by professionals and amateur sleuths.
UKHSA is also expected to deliver official guidance over the coming days on what to do if people develop symptoms of Monkeypox, or believe that they have been exposed to the virus.