Dallas nurse's dog avoids Excalibur's fate, will not be put down

Police officers stand outside an apartment where a nurse diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on Oct 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. -- PHOTO: AFP
Police officers stand outside an apartment where a nurse diagnosed with the Ebola virus resides on Oct 12, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. -- PHOTO: AFP

DALLAS - When cleaning crews went to seal off the home of a Dallas nurse who tested positive for Ebola, they found her dog. But unlike the pet dog of a Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola, it will not be euthanised, US reports said.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said that the dog, which was not named, will be quarantined until it can be re-united with its owner.

"The dog's very important to the patient and we want it to be safe," USA Today quoted Mr Rawlings as saying.

It will be moved to a new location until its owner, who contracted Ebola while caring for a patient, recovers.

The Texas health care worker is the first person to contract Ebola on American soil. The unidentified female caregiver at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is currently in the hospital, in isolation and in stable condition.

She was caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was diagnosed with Ebola in the United States last month and died in Texas on Wednesday.

In Spain, attention remained focused on 44-year-old Teresa Romero, the Madrid nurse who became the first person infected with the haemorrhagic fever outside of Africa.

The Spanish crisis cell set up after she fell sick said there was "reason to hope" she could recover.

Romero is thought to have contracted the disease in late September in a Madrid hospital while caring for a Spanish missionary infected with Ebola in Africa who later died.

Animal rights campaigners have demonstrated in several Spanish cities because the Madrid government had Romero's pet dog, Excalibur, put down this week, fearing it could spread the disease.

Experts said there was a risk of canines carrying the deadly virus but no hard evidence that they could infect humans, according to AFP.

A study published in 2005 pointed to a theoretical risk that dogs could pass the virus to humans through urine, faeces or saliva, but there is no evidence of this ever having happened, virologists said.

They recommended caution given the lack of firm data.

Bats are known to carry the Ebola virus in central Africa without showing symptoms. Monkeys and apes also get the virus and get ill in the same way as humans.

"The answer is that we don't know, because no one has actually studied it," said Dr Andrew Easton, a professor at Britain's Warwick University.

For Eric Leroy of France's IRD research institute killing Excalibur had robbed science of a rare opportunity.

Had it stayed alive, "this dog could have provided valuable answers to the world's questions: can a dog be sick with Ebola, can it excrete the virus, can it contaminate humans?" said Dr Leroy.