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COVID-19 Update for VeterinariansMay 5, 2020
SUMMARY: See this health alert for
COVID-19 Veterinarian GuidancePortions adapted from Public Health – Seattle & King County
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people and others cause illness in certain animals. Some coronaviruses that infect animals can be spread to people, but this is rare. Note: In the context of animal health, Coronavirus (COVID-19) is referred to by its scientific name, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Caring for a pet from a household where a person has suspected or confirmed COVID-19
Testing for SARS-CoV-2
Veterinarians are strongly encouraged to rule out more common causes of illness before testing for SARS-CoV-2, especially among pets without a COVID-19 exposure. A thorough history (including possible exposures within two weeks) should be taken. Clinical signs expected to be compatible with possible SARS-CoV-2 infection in mammalian animals may include: fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, nasal/ocular discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea. Routine testing of pets for SARS-CoV-2 is currently not recommended. Veterinarians who see animals that have a new, concerning illness and have been in a household with a person with COVID-19 or have had close contact to a person with COVID-19 should contact the Snohomish Health District. Also, please review the CDC criteria for evaluation and testing pets for SARS-Cov-2.
Authorization for testing in Washington will be conducted on a case by case basis by approval from Washington State Department of Agriculture in coordination with the Washington State Department of Health.
Managing a pet that tests positive for SARS-CoV-2
If a specimen tests positive at a laboratory other than a USDA National Veterinary Service Laboratory (NVSL), that specimen needs to be forwarded to NVSL to confirm test results.
The CDC provides guidance for both home and veterinary facility isolation recommendations. Pets can be released from isolation when it has been at least 72 hours since clinical signs have resolved without the use of medications AND at least 2 weeks have passed since the onset of symptoms.
Repeat testing of pets for SARS-CoV-2 or additional testing (e.g., serology) may be coordinated with Public Health and/or WSDA.
Advice for pet owners: