Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is transmitted through humans. There is no evidence that livestock or food products from livestock can carry COVID-19 or transmit it to humans, says Gregg Hanzlicek, director of the production animal field investigations unit in K-State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
“Producers are well aware that there is a (different strain of) coronavirus that is associated with neonatal diarrhea, and there’s another one that we think is now associated with cattle respiratory disease,” Hanzlicek said in a release.
Coronaviruses are very species-specific, he added. There is absolutely no indication that livestock can be carriers of COVID-19 and be a source of infection to humans, either through carrying it on their skin or their hair or anywhere else.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, producers are safe to go about their business of taking care of animals. However, livestock producers need to minimize the amount of exposure they have to humans. Keep doing what you do every day with your livestock, he said.
Pay attention to your own health
Livestock producers who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should see their medical professional, he said. If livestock begin showing signs of illness, producers should contact their local veterinarian
“The local vet will call the state or federal veterinarian and then a decision will be made whether to test those animals for COVID-19,” Hanzlicek said. “We don’t want to just start blanket sampling all animals. Again, with this virus, we do not believe that livestock are associated with spreading the disease.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now allowing producers to consult with a veterinarian through telemedicine or communicating sickness to a veterinarian by phone or online technology.
“This pandemic has had impacts on many of our everyday lives and professions, and during this time, we need to provide veterinarians with the latitude to expand the use of telemedicine in the care of animals, not only pets, but also the animals that produce our food,” Stephen M. Hahn, FDA commissioner, said in a prepared statement.
These changes allow for the social distancing that is so important in limiting the further spread of coronavirus disease across the country and the world, Hahn added.
Hanzlicek said the FDA also maintains a useful site with information for livestock owners regarding COVID-19.