COVID-19 Update

We are living through some very uncertain times right now and new information regarding COVID-19 is being released daily. Over the last several weeks we have heard all kinds of information and recommendations- some of which conflict with each other. We want to assure you that we are constantly keeping up with news from the CDC, Whitehouse and American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) – especially in regards to your pets.

As most of you have probably already heard, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York has demonstrated symptoms and has tested positive for COVID-19. What does this mean for you and your pets? The following statement was issued by Texas A&M COVM yesterday and it provides excellent insight into the situation:Coronavirus-CDC-768x432

04/08/20: Statement from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine on Animals and COVID-19

SARS CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, is a novel, or new, virus, and there is much yet to be discovered.

There have been recent news reports of a tiger that contracted the disease from a handler who was an asymptomatic carrier and other reports where experimentally exposed animals have developed clinical signs consistent with coronavirus infection that was then passed on to other animals. These studies were performed on very small numbers, have not gone through the normal review process, and have focused on human-to-animal and animal-to-animal transmission.

However, there have been no studies to date demonstrating that domestic animals and pets can transmit COVID-19 to their owners.

The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and its Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) are continuing to monitor research and news regarding the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 outbreak as it relates to companion animals.

Based on the information that is currently available, the CVM and VMTH recommend pet owners continue to follow United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) guidelines for proper hygiene and social distancing.

Specifically, the CVM and VMTH recommend:

  • Pet owners should continue taking basic precautions such as frequent and thorough hand-washing and limit “face-to-face contact” interactions with your pet.
  • Owners who are not sick do not need to isolate from pets, nor is there any recommendation to discontinue routine activities such as walking or playing with your pets if you are well.
  • If you have tested positive or are presumptively positive for COVID-19, separate yourself not only from other people but also from your animals. This may include having someone who is healthy feed your pets and not allowing your pets to sleep with you.
  • If an animal has to be removed from a household with someone who is ill, the pet should be bathed or their coat should be wiped to prevent transmission of the virus from the animal’s fur.

The COVID-19-Positive Household

If you or a family member have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and your pet becomes ill and shows signs of upper respiratory disease, we encourage you to contact your veterinarian. They may elect to test your pet for COVID-19. Testing requires approval from public health and animal health authorities and is only recommended for those animals exhibiting respiratory signs and that come from a household with someone who has been diagnosed presumptive or positive for COVID-19.

We want to repeat that there have been no studies to date demonstrating that domestic animals and pets can transmit COVID-19 to their owners. CVM veterinarians will continue to monitor news and scientific journals regarding COVID-19 transmission for animals and humans and with time and as new information becomes available, the CVM will continue to update its recommendations on COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19 and pets, please see the USDA question-and-answer page here:
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/news/sa_by_date/sa-2020/ny-zoo-covid-19

You may also visit the Texas Animal Health Commission’s (TAHC) webpage on companion animal coronavirus testing here:
https://www.tahc.texas.gov/covid19/TAHCVeterinaryGuidance_COVID_CompanionAnimalTesting.pdf

By: Tara Sansing

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