While Nina Pham recovers from Ebola at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, veterinarians in Dallas are paying close attention to her dog, Bentley.
“Bentley is a very valuable little guy, not only to his owner Nina Pham, but also to the rest of the world who is watching and has questions about the role of animals in the Ebola outbreak,” said Dr. Eleanor Green, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University.
Bentley is the first Ebola-exposed dog in the United States, and Green said he provides a rare opportunity for researchers. Many questions remain about animals and their role in the spread of Ebola.
“Does he shed the virus? Does he develop antibodies? Does he become ill? All three of those questions are very important to be answered at this time,” Green said.
Two veterinarians from Texas A&M’s veterinary emergency team are observing and caring for Bentley while he’s in quarantine.
It’s part of a coordinated effort involving Dallas Animal Services, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bentley’s first blood, urine and fecal tests came back negative for Ebola.
“It's a very accurate test. We can feel confident that this test is reliable,” said Green.
One of the goals of caring for Bentley is to send a message to people, especially those who may have been exposed to Ebola.
“What we don't want to have happen is people be concerned about pets exposed to Ebola and, therefore, perhaps delay self-reporting if they themselves have any early signs of Ebola,” Green said.
Green is hopeful about the outlook for Bentley.
“My hope at the end of this 21-day period is that we all look back and say we did the right thing,” she said.
If all goes well, Bentley could receive a clean bill of health on Nov. 3 and be reunited soon thereafter with Pham.