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Dallas to Spare Ebola Infected Nurse's Dog

Update Date: Oct 13, 2014 06:45 PM EDT

In contrast to the decision taken by Spanish authorities last week to euthanize a dog owned by a nurse who contracted Ebola, Dallas officials have decided to spare the dog of a healthcare worker who became infected.

The Dallas healthcare worker reportedly cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who contracted before succumbing to it in Dallas at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital. The healthcare worker was isolated immediately when she reported symptoms, Bloomberg reported.

The healthcare worker's dog is said to be in her apartment and officials plan to move it another location before it can be reunited with its owner. Dallas officials said they have no plans of euthanizing the animal.

"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. The dog will be moved from the house to a safe location and be cared for by the city. I believe the pet hasn't caught anything," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said according to Bloomberg.

While no documented cases exist of dogs passing on Ebola to humans or other animals, at least one major study following the 2001 outbreak in Gabon showed the present of immune response in dogs, indicating that they could be infected. However the animals did not show any symptoms.

The decision of Dallas authorities to spare the life of healthcare's workers pet is in stark contrast to the decision take by Spanish authorities last week who euthanized the dog of a healthcare worker. The move had caused furor as animal rights activists took to streets in protest. They alleged that the government killed the animal without considering if it was infected, The New York Times reported.

Researchers said the risk involving animal transmission is unknown.

"There is much we don't know about how a dog might acquire Ebola virus infection. When and whether dogs transmit Ebola virus to humans in general, and if canines' infections are always asymptomatic, remains poorly understood," Ian Mackay, an associate professor of clinical virology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, told Bloomberg. 

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