IN the ongoing Ebola media frenzy in Spain what seems to have touched a nerve most was the decision to put an infected nurse’s dog down.
Nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition calling on Health Minister Ana Mato to quit over the decision to destroy Excalibur, the pet of Teresa Romero who was the first person to contract the deadly virus outside Africa.
Animal rights group PACMA started the petition after the dog was put to sleep while Teresa and her husband were in quarantine. Excalibur’s death provoked widespread protests, with demonstrators taking to the streets of Madrid calling for the resignation of Mato. Many pointed out that the pet of an American nurse who had been diagnosed with Ebola was not destroyed, instead it was put in quarantine, and they wondered why that could not have happened with Excalibur.
After a previous Ebola outbreak in 2002 tests concluded that dogs could contract the virus, although it would appear they do not become sick.
There is no documented evidence of a dog passing Ebola to a human, although it is thought it may be possible for them to pass on the infection through a bite or licking.
Teresa has since been found to have fought off the virus and has now been moved out of quarantine into a general ward in a Sevilla hospital. She has said the worst part of the disease was losing Excalibur.