CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Catlee Shank of East Brainerd is one of many animal lovers recently wondering if Ebola could harm her pets. There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Tennessee. But if a widespread outbreak happens in the U.S., would her four dogs and two cats be at risk?
"I think we're still learning a lot about it. It's constant information coming out. It's a little overwhelming," says Shank.
After all, pets are family.
"It's a concern. I mean we don't want to lose them. They're are kids," says Shank.
Randy Hammon is a long-time veterinarian in Hixson. He's also been representing Tennessee in talks with the State Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
According to Hammon and a CDC report, there's no need to panic. So far there's nothing that shows household animals can get the disease.
"There's been no indication that dogs or cats contract the disease and show symptoms or that they would end up spreading the disease to other individuals," states Hammon.
He also points out that where Ebola is rampant in west Africa there's been no evidence that pets are a contributing factor, noting that the disease might only jump species if a pet comes in direct contact with someone known to have Ebola.
"If we do have a pet like the lady's pet in Houston, we're going to end up quarantining that pet and do our due diligence just to make sure we cover all the bases," explains Hammon.
He's speaking of nurse Nina Pham in Texas.
Shank hopes that if human Ebola cases increase, health officials don't over-react as in the case of a nurse in Spain who became infected. Her dog was euthanized.
"I really hope we don't and up with what happened in Spain where they had a pet put down just because," says Shank.
For more information on Ebola and pets visit this CDC web site.