Authorities aren't taking any chances in Spain, where the first case of Ebola transmission outside Africa has caused widespread alarm: The dog of a Madrid nurse was put down today because authorities believed it could carry and transmit the virus. Madrid's regional government obtained a court order to have Excalibur euthanized despite the objections of nurse Teresa Romero Ramos and her husband, who are both in quarantine. Her husband pleaded for authorities to spare the dog by placing it in quarantine instead, and a petition supporting the quarantine option gained roughly 380,000 signatures by this afternoon.
But police today removed the dog from the couple's apartment, and the Madrid regional government confirmed Excalibur was sedated before being euthanized; it was then incinerated. The AP notes that protesters tried to stop the dog being taken away in a van, but police with batons cleared a path. Research has shown that dogs can carry Ebola without showing symptoms, although it's not clear whether any humans have been infected through contact with dogs. "There is one article in the medical literature that discusses the presence of antibodies to Ebola in dogs. Whether that was an accurate test and whether that was relevant we do not know," CDC chief Tom Frieden told reporters yesterday. "We have not identified this as a means of transmission." It remains a mystery how Romero, who is in stable condition in the hospital, contracted Ebola. (Read more Ebola stories.)