New figures released by the WHO show that more than 8,000 people have now been infected with the disease and 3,879 have died. The vast majority of deaths have been in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

In Spain yesterday (8th October) a dog named Excalibur who belonged to an Ebola-infected nurse was destroyed, even as protesters and animal rights activists surrounded the Madrid home of the nurse and her husband. An online petition calling for the dog’s life to be spared had drawn hundreds of thousands of signatures.

The furor came amid questions about whether dogs can get and transmit the disease.

In the United States, a spokesman for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Skinner, said Wednesday that studies had shown that dogs can have an immune response to Ebola, meaning that they can become infected. But he said there had been no reports of dogs or cats developing Ebola symptoms or passing the disease to other animals or to people.

The death of Excalibur, a 12-year-old rescue dog, was confirmed to reporters by Javier Rodríguez, an official from Madrid’s regional government. The body is expected to be cremated.

The nurse’s husband had pleaded publicly with officials in Madrid to change their minds about destroying the dog. He told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that there was no indication that Excalibur had been infected with Ebola. The nurse has been identified as María Teresa Romero Ramos.

The fate of the dog ignited a frenzy online. More than 390,000 people signed the petition to save his life. By comparison, about 150,000 people have signed a petition urging the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track research on a potential vaccine and treatment for Ebola.

Twitter erupted with pleas in both English and Spanish to save Excalibur’s life. Then, after Excalibur was killed, came posts using the hashtag #RIPExcalibur. Some also suggested that more attention was being focused on the dog than on Ebola’s human victims.

The Spanish nurse was the first person to become infected outside West Africa. An aid worker has died in Australia following a visit to West Africa.

A World Health Organization (WHO) adviser has warned that more Ebola cases can be expected among medical staff, even in developed countries