In light of the recent events regarding COVID-19, the human coronavirus responsible for upper respiratory infections worldwide, the veterinarians at the Walcott Veterinary Clinic wanted to share the following information regarding the novel virus and its impact on both human and animal health.
- COVID-19: While the coronavirus causing the current outbreak is new, coronaviruses have a long-standing history in both human and veterinary medicine. The large family of coronaviruses (named for the crown-like structure of the virus) has been known to cause various respiratory or enteric disease in humans, domesticated animals, and wildlife. They tend to be host-specific, meaning that the virus does not easily move from one species to the next.
- Human/Animal Health: At this time, investigations by the WHO (World Health Organization, human medicine) and OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) have indicated that COVID-19 is not a zoonotic agent and is not transmissible between humans and animals. This means that continued interaction with pets and livestock animals is safe for both animals and people with regard to COVID-19. However, there are still plenty of other viruses and bacteria that can be shared between people and animals, so appropriate hygiene is still encouraged.
- Signs & Symptoms: COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of the flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath. This COVID-19 outbreak comes at a time of year when respiratory illnesses from influenza, the common cold, and other viruses are highly prevalent. Anyone showing signs of respiratory illness should self-quarantine and avoid contact with other people and animals if possible. For those with severe symptoms, seek out medical advice for continued care and testing.
- Hygiene: Because the virus is so new, there is not an available vaccine for COVID-19. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself and others from transmission of COVID-19 and other infective agents is properly washing hands, avoiding touching your mouth, eyes, and face with unwashed hands, covering mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and maintaining a clean environment. The CDC is also recommending social distancing as a way to avoid contact with potentially infected individuals. The goal is to keep as many members of the population healthy and slow the spread of the virus in order to avoid overwhelming hospitals and medical centers for those with more severe respiratory disease in need of medical care.
- Control the Virus: One of the best ways we can all help to control COVID-19 is to follow instructions given by the CDC and other government agencies as it pertains to self-isolation, hygiene, and procedures for getting health care as needed. For those in animal agriculture, being mindful of reducing waste by conserving gloves, masks, and other medical equipment can help ensure that human hospitals and medical centers can continue to care for those affected by the virus.
As always, the doctors and staff of the Walcott Veterinary Clinic are dedicated to the healthcare of pets and livestock, and the support of those who care for them daily. We will continue to provide care to our patients and clients while ensuring that we do our part to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
Allison Knox, DVM
Walcott Veterinary Clinic
Just as we are being reminded about biosecurity and human health, let’s take a moment to review clean and dirty lines in our barns.
Remember that what’s inside stays inside and what’s outside stays outside. This has been made even more important as another coronavirus, PED, is plentiful right now, and we have at least 5 locations where pigs have been affected. It is not possible for feed deliveries to PED sites to all be last thing and get trucks washed afterwards because we are still washing livestock trailers for the next morning’s loads at that time as well. Don’t wear your inside boots outside and don’t take the dead carts across the driveway; don’t give feed delivery guys anything to track somewhere else, and don’t drag something back into your barns either. Thank you!
Contingency planning underway
We have been in contact with JBS regarding their ability to continue slaughter and process in event of a more widespread outbreak of COVID-19. At this time, they have no plans of closing, but we are developing contingency plans to accommodate potential plant closures and/or limited kill times.
Effective immediately we are prioritizing barn dumps so we can continue our nursery flows and keep the sow farm pig flows moving forward. Once barns are empty, we are asking you to have your barns washed and disinfected immediately to give us more flexibility. If there are any openings in the schedule, we will pull weanings and feeder pig moves forward to close the gaps.
If the plant closes or cancels loads, we will go to a limit-feeding program after barns are topped out which would mean filling feeders twice daily (morning & night) or adjusting feed timers for tube feeders to maintain control of pig weight. We will let you know if/when we begin that program.
In the meantime, we are asking for your cooperation and flexibility as we make changes and operate in this time of uncertainty.