Texas nurse is Ebola-free; healthy Bentley released back into her care
Although possibly exposed to deadly virus, Cavalier King Charles spaniel tested negative for Ebola throughout 21-day quarantine.
Free and clear post-quarantine, Bentley, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, reunited with his owner, Nina Pham, in October after both were declared Ebola-free. Pham exited her own treatment and quarantine for the disease first at the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center in Bathesda, Maryland. Anxious to see Bentley, the emotional reunion was covered extensively by the media as a success story of the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Cameras captured Bentley's veterinarians and caretakers celebrating with Bentley and bathing him in preparation for his quarantine farewell. Photos and videos of Bentley first seeing Pham and her family are posted on the Dallas Animal Service's Facebook page as well. Pham could hardly hold onto the young dog as he licked everyone's faces.
Bentley and Pham were separated Oct. 10 after Pham self-reported symptoms to Dallas health officials and subsequently tested positive for Ebola. Possibly exposed to the virus, Bentley was placed in isolation. His monitoring and care was coordinated by a host of public health and veterinary health groups. University of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Veterinary Emergency Team leaders Wesley Bissett, DVM, PhD, and Deb Zoran, DVM, MS, PhD, treated and tested Bentley during his quarantine.
The dog was tested multiple times for Ebola during his 21-day isolation. All tests-PCR tests of blood, urine and feces-came back negative. As testing began, Eleanor Green, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP, dean of veterinary medicine at the University of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said the experts assembled to treat Bentley did not expect the dog to show clinical illness, but they were handing him with an abundance of caution. “They're treating him as if he's shedding virus even though we're hoping he isn't,” Green said.
Since public health officials lack sufficient research to rule out dogs spreading Ebola, Green said a large pool of experts had been assembled to come up with answers for Bentley. Texas A&M, which offers the only veterinary college in the state, worked in partnership with the City of Dallas Animal Services, the Texas Animal Health Commission, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to oversee Bentley's veterinary care and isolation. “Bentley is the first Ebola exposed dog in the U.S. What we do we have to do thoughtfully and carefully,” she said.
U.S. health officials chose to handle Bentley's case differently than Spanish officials who euthanized the pet of nurses' assistant Teresa Romero Ramos-the first person to contract Ebola outside of Africa. Instead, Bentley was quarantined, cared for and monitored. The information learned from Bentley is vitally important to public health. “This won't be the last Ebola-exposed person who owns an animal,” Green said.
The way Bentley is handled is also important for human medicine. “We know people will put their own lives at risk in the interest of their animals,” Green said. “We don't want people to be reluctant to report illness out of fear for their animals.
Green says the circumstances of this outbreak underscore the importance of One Health initiatives. “We can't take care of people without taking care of animals,” she said. “That's the only way it's going to work.”
Pham and Bentley's reunion was celebrated as a great success as Pham is the first person to contract the virus in the United States. A nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Pham contracted the virus while caring for Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, who succumbed to the virus Oct. 8. After being released from quarantine and declared Ebola-free by doctors, Pham was given a hero's welcome at the Oval Office, even receiving a hug from President Barack Obama.
Bentley received much pomp and circumstance when he exited quarantine as well. He left the care of his veterinarians healthy, famous and with a basket of dog toys. Free and clear post-quarantine, Bentley, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, reunited with his owner, Nina Pham, Saturday after they were both declared Ebola-free. Pham exited her own treatment and quarantine for the disease last week at the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center in Bathesda, Md. Anxious to see Bentley, the emotional reunion was covered extensively by the media as a success story of the 2014 Ebola outbreak.