COVID-19 and Animals
March 3, 2020 — Abbey Canon
The CDC and AVMA have a collection of resources and answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and animals.
The AVMA's COVID-19 landing page has multiple resources about COVID-19 and animals, including
- Overview: COVID-19 in Humans
- Coronaviruses in Domestic Species, a review of coronaviruses recognized in domestic animals and humans
- Coronavirus: Detailed Taxonomy, a detailed taxonomy of coronaviruses that affect animals and people, including associated diseases and affected organ systems
Many different coronaviruses have been isolated from various wild and domestic animal species and humans. Five coronavirus-associated diseases have been reported in swine: porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), porcine coronavirus (PorCoV), porcine respiratory coronavirus (PRCoV), and porcine hemagglutinating encephalomyelitis virus (PHEV). There is currently no evidence to suggest that pigs can be infected with the novel virus causing COVID-19 or transmit the virus to people.
The AVMA and FDA are also collecting information about potential veterinary supply chain issues related to the outbreak of COVID-19. Visit AVMA for more information about how to report supply chain issues.
On February 28, 2020, a dog in Hong Kong, owned by a patient with COVID-19, was quarantined after samples obtained from its nasal cavity and mouth tested "weak positive" for the virus causing COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2, formerly called 2019-nCoV). At this time, it is unknown if test results were due to infection, environmental contamination, cross-reactivity, or even a false-positive. The dog did not exhibit any clinical signs.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no animals in the United States have been identified with the virus, and there is no evidence that dogs or other pets can contract or spread COVID-19.
Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19?
While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person in China. There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it's always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals. For more information on the many benefits of pet ownership, as well as staying safe and healthy around animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife, visit CDC's Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.
Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19?
You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.
What about animals or animal products imported from China?
CDC does not have any evidence to suggest that animals or animal products imported from China pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) play distinct but complementary roles in regulating the importation of live animals and animal products into the United States. CDC regulates animals and animal products that pose a threat to human health, USDA regulates animals and animal products that pose a threat to agriculture; and FWS regulates importation of endangered species and wildlife that can harm the health and welfare of humans, the interests of agriculture, horticulture, or forestry, and the welfare and survival of wildlife resources.
What precautions should be taken for animals that have recently been imported (for example, by shelters, rescue groups, or as personal pets) from China?
Animals imported from China will need to meet CDC and USDA requirements for entering the United States. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. As with any animal introduced to a new environment, animals recently imported from China should be observed daily for signs of illness. If an animal becomes ill, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian. Call your local veterinary clinic before bringing the animal into the clinic and let them know that the animal was recently in China.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) also has Questions and Answers on COVID-19.
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