NOTE: The following guidance is superseded by updated guidance released on May 28, 2020
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a human disease caused by the betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Most patients experience mild or moderate illness, but it can be severe or fatal. Persons at increased risk for severe COVID-19 include the elderly and persons with certain preexisting conditions. Molecular analysis of SARS-CoV2 virus suggests that it originated in certain species of Old-World bats and may have infected another mammal, possibly pangolins, before it was transmitted to humans. Despite its animal origins, there is currently no evidence to indicate that animals, including pets and livestock, have served as a source of transmission of SARS-CoV2 to humans or are widely susceptible to clinical illness or shedding of the virus. We await reliable peer-reviewed data to support revision of these positions.
Community transmission among humans was first detected in the U.S. in mid-February and is now widespread throughout the country. In early March, state and local authorities issued orders for individuals to practice social distancing, for nonessential business and public venues to close, for organizations to cancel public gatherings, and for all persons to stay-at-home except to perform necessary activities. Workers in veterinary hospitals and clinics were identified as essential healthcare and public health workers and these facilities were exempted from closure. Currently, counties that meet specified benchmarks may advance through sequential stages of loosening shelter-in-place orders, reopening certain types of businesses, and allowing previously restricted activities. At each stage, veterinary clinics may be able to expand services they offer if they adhere to the requirements of their jurisdictions. Veterinarians should check frequently with their local public health officials to understand the orders and restrictions currently in force. At all times, veterinary clinics should be mindful to exercise precautions and implement procedures to reduce the risk of virus transmission among and between staff and clients.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Veterinary Public Health Section (VPHS) offers the following guidelines and resources to enable veterinary clinics to continue to provide essential healthcare while protecting staff and clients. Note that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and veterinary professionals should check the resources below frequently for the latest evidence-based guidance.
Recommend to clients that if a household member has COVID-19 infection, a different member of the household should care for the animal, if possible. The ill household member should avoid contact with the pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If the ill person must care for the pet, they should wash their hands before and after interacting with the pet and wear a cloth face covering during all interactions.
Physical distancing of at least six feet should be followed for all interactions with clients. Clients and staff should wear cloth face coverings.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control andPrevention (CDC) recommends that people diagnosed with COVID-19 should isolate for
at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared. After 10 days, employees can
return to work if they also have had at least 24 hours with no fever without
fever-reducing medication and their symptoms have improved.
outbreak among clinic staff should be reported to the local health department.
An outbreak is defined as three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of
COVID-19 among workers who live in different households within a two-week
period. Guidance on managing a COVID-19 outbreak in the
workplace can be found at Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace.
World Organization for Animal Health (OIE):