Bentley, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel belonging to Ebola patient Nina Pham, will be held in isolation at an undisclosed facility, Dallas officials have confirmed to NBC News.
“They do expect to be moving the dog today,” Richard Hill, spokesperson for the Dallas’ Office of Emergency Management told NBC News Monday.
Dallas Animal Services confirmed in tweets that Bentley was safe in its hands and posted images on its Facebook page of the operation to move the dog from Pham's home.
Pham is the first person to contract Ebola while on U.S. soil, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is a nurse who was part of the team that cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian citizen who died of Ebola after traveling to Dallas. Pham was reported in stable condition Monday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the same Dallas facility where Duncan was treated.
Hill said the dog would be held in isolation from other dogs and people. “Wherever Bentley ends up, whatever [sort of facility] he’ll be in, he’ll be by himself.”
Hill speculated the dog would be monitored for signs of the virus for 21 days, the same period used for people who may have come into contact with the virus. Decontamination protocols will be used to dispose of any feces or other material from Bentley found around Pham’s apartment.
Sana Syed, spokesperson for the city of Dallas, said late Monday that Bentley was not being held at a shelter. "He is at an undisclosed location, away from homes, apartments and other animals," she said. There are no plans to euthanize the dog.
Protests erupted when a dog belonging to a Spanish nurse who became infected with Ebola was put down as a precautionary measure, but there is reason to use great care in handling domestic animals that may have been exposed to the virus.
During a 2001-2002 Ebola outbreak in Gabon, nearly one-third of dogs in some villages with human cases tested positive for Ebola exposure, possibly through contact with vomit or feces of Ebola victims. A 2012 Canadian study found that all macaques housed with Ebola-infected pigs — but without direct contact — became infected. And, in 2009, there were cases of pig-to-human Ebola transmission in the Philippines, though the virus in that case was a strain that’s harmless to humans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence Ebola can make a dog sick, and no confirmed cases of dogs transmitting the virus to people. And because Nina Pham was monitoring herself and reported in to the hospital at the first sign of infection, Bentley is at low risk of having been infected, too.
Asked whether there were plans to test Bentley for Ebola, Syed said the city would seek direction from the state health department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"In the meantime, a vet will check him every day," Syed said.