In the past few weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has flooded newsfeeds and shaken the world’s economy. We are seeing the continued ripple effects of the virus as it spreads here in the United States and abroad.
Coronaviruses make up a large family of viruses that can infect humans and animals. These viruses have been responsible for other outbreaks around the world, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The emerging COVID-19 virus started in China in December 2019. In general, this family of viruses cannot survive on surfaces for long periods of time. However, people can become infected by touching contaminated surfaces in that short window of time.
At the current time, there has not been any link between COVID-19 infections from animals to people. Results of dogs that were tested in China came back with weak positives, but their owners were ill from the virus already. The virus spreads from people to people, and people are most contagious when they are the most symptomatic. The symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. The best ways to prevent the virus would be to limit exposure and stay in if you are not feeling well. Additionally, it is critical to follow everyday preventative actions to decrease the spread of illnesses, like avoiding close contact with those that are sick and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you cough or sneeze into a tissue, immediately throw it away. Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces regularly.
While we have not identified the virus spreading from animal to human, it is important to follow proper safety and sanitary protocols. If you are working with farm animals or in shelters, follow proper personal protective gear guidelines including wearing gloves and washing your hands thoroughly. If an animal appears ill, I would strongly encourage you to see a consultation with a veterinary professional, especially if they are showing any signs of respiratory illness such as coughing, sneezing, or having any nasal/ocular discharge.
If you are a pet owner, it is important to have all your needed pet supplies in the event of contracting the illness and being asked to be quarantined. Be sure to have plenty of pet food and any medications your pet may be on. It would also be recommended to have emergency plans if you need to be hospitalized; be sure to know who could care for your household pets or farm animals.
We all must do our part to help decrease the spread of the COVID-19 virus. If you have any concerns about your animals, be sure to contact a veterinary professional for early consultation and assistance.
Catskill Veterinary Services, PLLC