News & Press: NZVA news

COVID-19 and animals

Wednesday, 11 March 2020  
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In response to enquiries from members, here are some guidelines for managing COVID-19.

This information has been summarised using information from the World Health Organisation, New Zealand Ministry of Health and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association.

Guidance from the World Health Organisation for keeping your veterinary workplace safe

  • Keep workplaces clean and hygienic
  • Promote regular and thorough handwashing and sanitising
  • Promote good respiratory hygiene
  • Check travel advisory information before embarking on travel
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wipe down surfaces regularly with disinfectant

Companion animals and COVID-19

  • There is limited evidence mammalian pet animals (including dogs and cats) can be infected with COVID-19 and no current evidence of companion cats/dogs acting as a source of infection to humans/other animals.
  • We do however recommend precautionary measures for interacting with animals. For animal owners with COVID-19: it is recommended they avoid contact with animals in their household. If they do need to provide care for their animals, good hygiene practices should be observed (washing hands before and after interacting with animals and wearing a face mask).
  • For people in areas where COVID-19 exists: avoid contact with unfamiliar animals and practice good hygiene before and after you interact with animals.
  • This is an evolving situation and information will be updated as available.
  • The dog in Hong Kong reported to have tested “weakly positive” for COVID-19 was the pet of a known infected patient. The dog is in quarantine and is showing no clinical signs. Further testing will occur to determine if the dog is actually infected with the virus, or if the test result is due to environmental contamination. See the full WSAVA advisory document.

General advice:

Monitor the situation using credible sources such as the New Zealand Ministry of Health and plan accordingly.

COVID-19 is an evolving situation. The advice provided today is only likely to change if COVID-19 is confirmed as affecting veterinary species (particularly companion animals) or there are many more cases confirmed in New Zealand people.

If the current New Zealand picture changes, the NZVA will endeavour to update members as fast as possible, as we receive relevant information.

Here are some questions and answers about Coronavirus and animals from the OIE.