08 Apr New Information to share with your clients concerning pets and COVID-19
The KVMA has been receiving questions about how to handle various situations relating to COVID-19. Many revolve around how to handle a pet that may or may not have encounter a COVID-19 infected person. This question has become more pressing, as two dogs (Hong Kong), two cats (Hong Kong and Belgium) and, now, a tiger (Bronx Zoo in New York) have tested positive for COVID-19. The KVMA has created an informative flier that you may use as a handout to your clients with questions.
The KVMA Brochure, concerning the protection of pets and the community during this COVID-19 crisis, has been updated to reflect this new information. Please use this brochure as a handout to your clients that may have questions.
According to the AVMA: “It appears that dogs and cats are not readily infected with SARS-CoV-2, we have little to no evidence that they become ill, and no evidence that those that may be naturally infected spread SARS-CoV-2 to other pets or people.”
We reached out to the Kentucky Department of Health to help address COVID-19 concerns in the veterinary profession. They’ve issued the following guidance.
Basic Points for Veterinary Health Care Providers Treating Companion Animals:
- Everyone, including veterinary health care providers and their clients, should be aware of Kentucky Executive Order-03-26: Only life-sustaining businesses may remain open which include businesses that provide food, shelter and other necessities of life for animals. All businesses permitted to operate must follow, to the fullest extent practicable, social distancing and hygiene guidance from the CDC and Kentucky Department of Health. In addition wearing of wearing of cloth masks in certain situation is recommended.
- The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued a mandate to health care professionals offering guidelines as to categorizing services provided, which can be used by veterinarians (https://chfs.ky.gov/cv19/RehabServicesguidance.pdf). Also see recommendations outlined by Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners (http://www.kybve.com/documents/2020-03-27_Email_5_COVID-19.pdf)
- When scheduling an appointment with a client, the veterinary staff member should ask the client if the pet has been exposed to a known or suspected COVID-19 case. Telemedicine may be an option, in some cases.
- Conduct a pre-visit triage to help protect you and your staff as you prioritize and determine which patients need to be seen at the clinic.
- If Urgent or Emergent veterinary care is needed at the clinic, a healthy friend or family member should bring the animal in, and staff should again ask if the pet has been exposed to a known or suspected COVID-19 case upon intake.
- Refer to the AVMA’s flowchart “Minimizing COVID-19 Exposure and Social Distancing in Veterinary Practice” to help you and your practice decide how a patient can be best cared for while also staying as safe as possible.
- Curbside drop off and pick-up maintaining appropriate distance if possible. Also if needed wearing proper PPE.
- Staff who handle the animal should continue to be diligent with standard infection control practices including good hand hygiene, avoiding mucous membrane exposure to pet saliva and other bodily fluids. At minimum, gloves and washable outerwear are recommended when working with the animal and cleaning the animal’s environment. Gloves, gown and goggles / face shield with surgical mask, as well as minimizing the number of staff present are recommended if there is a risk for sprays or splashes. See National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) Veterinary Standard Precautions and CDC Optimizing PPE.
- Pets should not be allowed to co-mingling while at the practice. A pet has been exposed to a known or suspected COVID-19 case should be kept isolated from other pets while at the practice.
- If an animal has a new, concerning illness not attributable to more common medical conditions, and resides with a person with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19, the responding veterinarian should contact the Kentucky State Public Health Veterinarian 502-682-4048 or Kentucky State Veterinarian’s office 502-573-0282.
- Continue to clean and disinfect all equipment used at your facility, following package instructions including recommended contact time. Read more about cleaning and disinfection for community facilities and control and prevention.
- Non-human primates should be managed at a referral practice that specializes in the care of these animals.
In regards to the tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York testing positive, the AVMA has shared the following information.
“On April 5, the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed SARS-CoV-2 in one tiger in a zoo in New York. This is the first instance of a tiger being infected with COVID-19. Samples from the tiger were obtained and tested after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed clinical signs of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe the large cats became sick after exposure to an employee who was actively shedding virus. The zoo was closed in mid-March and the first tiger began showing clinical signs on March 27. All of the large cats are expected to recover and no other animals in the zoo are exhibiting clinical signs of disease. USDA and CDC are continuing to monitor the animals, and state animal and public health officials will determine whether other animals, at this zoo or in other areas, should be tested for SARS-CoV-2. The OIE will also be notified.”
The important thing to keep in mind is that this is a PERSON TO PERSON transmitted disease. An occasional pet may pick it up from their owner, but it is not a zoonotic disease and there is no belief at this time that it will become one.
Much appreciation to you and your Veterinary teams during these trying times while working to meet the needs of your clients and patients.