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One dog down, in Spain’s Ebola panic

8 October 2014

4:17 PM

8 October 2014

4:17 PM

[UPDATE: The dog is now dead, WSJ reports.]

For anyone concerned about Spain’s ability to contain Ebola, after a Spanish nurse’s aide tested positive for the virus, fear not: Madrid’s regional government plans to euthanize the infected woman’s pet dog in the interest of combatting contagion.

The dog, a 12-year-old mutt named Excalibur, shows no sign of infection, and it’s unclear whether the disease even can be transmitted from dogs to humans. A 2005 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that ‘dogs might be asymptomatically infected by Ebola virus,’ and that during Gabon’s 2001-02 outbreak, ‘several dogs were highly exposed to Ebola virus by eating infected dead animals.’

‘We cannot take the risk,’ Felipe Vilas, of Madrid’s Official College of Veterinarians, tells El Pais.

The infected woman’s husband Javier Romero, who is also in quarantine, said he was contacted by the Madrid authorities on Tuesday asking for his consent to kill the dog.

‘I said no,’ Romero wrote from his hospital bed, in a message circulated to animal-rights agencies. ‘And they told me that they would demand a court order to enter my house and sacrifice him.’

Romero’s wife, who had been caring for an infected missionary flown into Spain from Sierra Leone, has said she has ‘no idea’ how she contracted the virus. She was isolated on Monday, nearly one week after first complaining of fever and weakness.

The Spanish health ministry on Tuesday said it was monitoring the other members of her medical team, along with 22 other people it has ‘so far’ identified as having come into contact with her.

Cold comfort, apparently, to Spanish citizens, who are showing a distinct lack of stiff upper lip. The hashtag #VamosAmorirTodos (‘We Are All Going to Die’) is now trending across social media.

The Ebola outbreak so far has killed more than 3,400 people in West Africa.

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