The dog of a Spanish woman with Ebola will be killed by Madrid's regional government to contain the possible spread of the deadly disease. Reuters

As health officials try to contain the spread of Ebola, Madrid’s regional government will euthanize the dog of a Spanish nursing assistant after she became infected with the deadly disease, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. A court order was passed, despite the family’s objections, since there is a chance the pet could transmit the fatal virus to humans.

The nursing assistant, whose name has not been revealed due to privacy concerns, was the first person to become infected with the virus outside West Africa. She contracted Ebola after she cared for a priest who contracted the virus in Sierra Leone and died last month.

There is some evidence that suggests dogs can contract Ebola and can infect humans, NBC News wrote. As a result, “biosecurity” measures are being taken to make sure such a transmission does not occur, the AP added. The dog, which is a mixed breed called “Excalibur,” will be euthanized in a manner so it will not suffer. Its body will be incinerated, according to the government.

Ebola Treatments
A laboratory technician of the company Icon Genetics prepares proteins from tobacco plants (Nicotiana benthamiana) for weighing in a laboratory in Halle, Aug. 14, 2014. Icon Genetics develops a technology to mass produce Ebola vaccine with the help of tobacco plants. Reuters/Axel Schmidt

Even though the court order has already been passed in Madrid, there are thousands of people who do not want to see the animal killed. A petition has been started on Change.org and people are asking the government to let the dog live. The petition, started by Carmen Sanchez Montañes, was written in Spanish, English and Finnish. Nearly 90,000 people have signed.

“If this woman were to die, the dog which has accompanied them for so many years would be an important emotional support for her husband,” the petition reads, in part. “This is not 'just' a dog, for this couple he is one of the family.”

The woman might have contracted Ebola due to substandard equipment and not following proper protocol, the Guardian reported. However, the Associated Press said she wore a hazmat suit both times she treated the infected priest and records said she was not accidentally exposed to the virus, which is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is infected.

More than 3,400 people in West Africa have been killed by the latest outbreak. It’s thought the virus has spread in Africa though contact with infected bats and handling “bushmeat,” which is the meat of African wild animals.

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