This paper is a recommendation for a coordinated effort between human and veterinary medicine and public health authorities to address concerns about quarantine and household pets. In 2003, an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused a voluntary quarantine of 23,000 people in Canada. It is unknown how many of these persons had pets, and the authors were unaware of any mention of pets in the protocols suggested for the quarantined persons. In retrospect, it is now known that domestic cats and ferrets are susceptible to experimental infection by the SARS coronavirus and that they can transmit the virus to other cats and ferrets. Pets are present in 59.3% of households in the United States, and many pet owners have more prolonged and close contact with their pets than with most other persons. Considerations for pets should be included in the development of community-based quarantine protocols.
COMMENTARY: Realizing the importance of the role of animals in emerging diseases has led many to recognize the importance of health care workers taking a more active role in communicating with one another. Dr. Roger K. Mahr, the new president of the AVMA, has made it the theme of his presidency: "One world, one health, one medicine."
Pets in voluntary household quarantine. Weese JS, Kruth SA. EMERG INFECT DIS 12:1029-1030, 2006.