According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the American Veterinary Medical Association, large farm animals, including equine, poultry and pets, at this time, cannot transmit COVID-19.
“We’re not seeing animals coming in with these viruses,” said Susan Nelson, a clinical professor for small animals at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “We don’t want people to be scared of their pets.”
Nelson said that although pets are not carriers, pet owners do need to have a plan in case they themselves get sick with COVID-19 or if they have to be on quarantine.
For domesticated pets, these are the actions to take:
• Make sure vaccines are up to date
• Have a location for pets to go if you come down with the coronavirus
• Make sure you have pet carriers in a handy location
• For cats, have an extra box of litter, to last two weeks
• Have an extra bag of food, two weeks’ worth
•Have a leash handy
• Have a phone number for your animal’s veterinarian handy
• Continue to wash your hands and practice safe hygiene
• Medicine needs to be up to date
• You can make an emergency list and/or kit in case you get sick and are unable to pack
According to the AVMA, if you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet as you normally would, including walking, feeding and playing. You should continue to practice good hygiene during those.
Weak Positive Case
There was what they called a “weak positive” case in Hong Kong involving a dog, but Nelson said this might “be environmental.” After the initial test, the animal received various negative results from further tests. According to the South China Post, the 17-year-old Pomeranian died of pre-existing conditions. This case is being further investigated. Most experts say to stay away from both animals and humans if you are infected with the coronavirus.
Like domesticated pets, horses are safe to ride and feed. As far as researchers know, they will not transmit the virus, nor can they catch it.
“At this time, there is no equine that I am aware of with COVID-19,” said Laurie Beard, clinical professor of equine medicine at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Although horses and other pets cannot acquire or transmit the virus as far as research shows, Beard, like Nelson, said to use commonsense measures when taking care of your horses. Always wash your hands before and after you take care of them or ride them. And, like with small pets, have a contingency plan in place in case you get sick.
As for poultry, the plan remains the same. Because they cannot transmit the virus, both you and your poultry are safe. In addition, the food supply is safe, as well.
Scott Beyer, professor of animal sciences and the poultry extension agent at K-State, said that because workers are sparse in poultry facilities in Kansas, the plants are pretty safe from not having a slowdown. Since the virus hit, Beyer said, there has been a 6% to 8% increase in poultry sales.
As for livestock, the same is true as for the other animals.
“This is a human pathogen,” said A.J. Tarpoff, beef extension veterinarian at K-State. “This is a person-to-person spread. It’s (spread by) just human to human contact.”
As for the meat, it’s safe. But, always stay on the safe side. If someone comes down with the coronavirus, they should have someone else take care of the animals.
“COVID-19 is not a food safety risk at all,” Tarpoff said. “If there is an infected person, stay away from that person’s animals.”
For more information, go to the AVMA website.