Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bentley will live!

Nina Pham's beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniel "Bentley" has been removed from her home and will be quarantined separately under the care of the SPCA.  He will not face the swift fate that Excalibur, the mixed breed dog in Spain who was euthanized after Teresa Romero contacted Ebola.

Teresa Romero contracted Ebola while she was caring for an infected patient in Madrid Spain and as is all too common these days, she was hospitalized and those in close contact with her were placed in quarantine.  That included her and her husband Javier as well as their dog Excalibur.  There was no proof that the dog had contracted Ebola from contact and pleas were made to save it's life.

He husband pleaded that their dog be allowed to stay in quarantine for observation and petitions to spare it's life garnered over 450,000 signatures.  It did not matter as the decision was made to euthanize Excalibur to eliminate the possibility that he could have contracted it or become a carrier of the virus.

One study was done during the 2001 outbreak in Gabon that used 300 dogs in the area.  It found that between 9 - 25% of the dogs showed antibodies for the virus in comparison to 2% of the control group in France.  It should be noted that dogs in the region had been observed eating parts of dead human Ebola victims that had been left in the streets.  The study group may well have had dogs that literally had ingested the virus as contact.  There have been no studies regarding the possibility of contracting the virus from casual contact with a dog or if a dog can contract it from a human in that way.

Scientists have also stated that they have no idea as to how long they would need to quarantine dog to prove it is free from the virus.  They also don't have any proof that a dog can pass along the virus because they do not seem to secrete it as humans do in body fluids.  None of the current research on incubation periods and transmission methods apply to dogs because they have not studied that before.  It has been proven that the virus can be contracted while handling infected Chimpanzees, fruit bats, gorillas, monkeys, porcupines and forest antelope.  It is believed that the virus has a natural host in fruit bats.

The threat that could be posed by an exposed dog is unclear so Spain chose their plan of action despite what the public felt.  In Texas, they have chosen the opposite direction stating that Nina Pham's dog Bentley is very important to her recovery and future.  Officials have moved in to decontaminate the apartment she had been living in and animal control with the help of the SPCA has moved in to remove her dog to an undisclosed location for quarantine.

Nina Pham, 26, grew up in Fort Worth TX and graduated from Texas Christian University with a nursing license in 2010.  She had just received  certification in critical care nursing and worked with US Ebola patient Thomas Duncan who recently died from the virus.  Pham was well known for her nursing skills and care in handling difficult cases and it is unknown how she contracted the virus.

Officials have decided that for the moment Bentley is showing no signs of being infected and they believe that sparing his life right now is more beneficial to Pham's recovery than euthanizing him would be.  They have even sent her a recent video of Bentley to help ease her mind.

Nina continues to fight Ebola in the hospital and it is hoped that she will beat this virus and be able to return to life with her beloved dog Bentley.  I have to agree that keeping him alive but quarantined will help in her recovery because I know that it would help me if I were in a similar situation.





Update Oct 16 2014:

Bentley has been moved to the decommissioned Hensley Field which is owned by the city for observation.  He has been given toys, comfortable bedding and other things to try and keep him entertained and comfortable while he stays there.  He is not just warehoused on the base but is living in the former residence of the executive officer on base.  They are trying to do everything possible to keep the dog and Nina comfortable with his care and any updates.


Update Oct 23 2014:

Bentley has been found to be negative for the Ebola virus and his quarantine will end soon.  The Veterinary Emergency team at Texas A&M University report that his spirits are high and they have fallen in love with him.  Unfortunately Excalibur in Spain was not given the chance to be quarantined and tested to see if he had been exposed to or was a carrier of the Ebola virus before he was put down. Let us hope that he and Nina can be reunited very soon to enjoy life together again.


Update Oct 24 2014:

Teresa Romero's husband had stated that his wife, who has now been tested as Ebola-free, is heartbroken that the government put her dog Excalibur down while she was in the hospital.  He was not the cause of her getting Ebola and he shouldn't have had to pay with his life because she had caught it.

Thousands have taken to the streets in Madrid calling for the resignation of the health minister, Ana Mato's resignation.  The US has proven that a dog can be reasonably quarantined and tested for whether it carries the Ebola virus and it seems that it was not an option in Spain.  There are reports that there were numerous offers to help or house Excalibur if he was placed in quarantine but those were rejected.

I am sure the view would have been different if the government took it upon themselves to "euthanize" any humans that may have come in contact with someone who has Ebola.  I am very sorry that Romero will come home after fighting for her life........ to an empty home and no wagging tail.


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