WSAVA Issues Guidance on Pets and the New Coronavirus

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has prepared an advisory document offering guidance and a series of Frequently Asked Questions to help its members when talking with pet owners concerned about the risk of infection with the new coronavirus (2019 n-CoV), following the outbreak in China.

It also calls on veterinarians to urge owners not to panic because it is highly unlikely that they could contract 2019 n-CoV from their dog or cat, or that their companion animal could transmit the virus to people or other animals.

Dr Michael Lappin, chair of the WSAVA’s One Health Committee, recommends that veterinarians tell owners to:

  • keep their companion animals with them if they are self-quarantined
  • keep cats inside
  • arrange care for any animals left at home if family or friends are hospitalised
  • contact their veterinarian immediately if they have questions or concerns.

The WSAVA’s Scientific Committee and One Health Committee have worked together to produce the advisory document, which confirms that there is currently no evidence that pets or other domestic animals can be infected with 2019 n-CoV or that they may be a source of infection to people.  They do warn, though, that it is a ‘rapidly evolving situation’.

The advisory also cautions veterinarians against using vaccines against canine enteric coronavirus available in some global markets in the hope that they may offer some cross-protection against 2019-nCoV.  There is no evidence for this, as the new virus is a distinctly different coronavirus variant.

WSAVA President Dr Shane Ryan said:  “There is still much we don’t know about 2019-CoV and, while the priority is to bring the outbreak of the infection caused to people under control as soon as possible, we are concerned for animal welfare with reports of animals being abandoned or killed because their owners fear that they might carry the virus.  There is no evidence that this is necessary and we urge our members to ensure owners follow our guidance and keep themselves and their companion animals safe.”

The WSAVA’s advisory is available here: https://wsava.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/nCOV_WSAVA-Advisory-Document-final-05.02.2020.pdf

The WSAVA represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide through its 113 member associations. Its core activities include the development of WSAVA Global Guidelines in key areas of veterinary practice, including pain management, nutrition and vaccination, and the provision of continuing education.

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