Army Veterinary Services (VS) is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and planning for all animal health and food defense contingencies. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and information will be updated as it becomes available.
At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to humans.
The National Veterinary Services of Hong Kong reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) evidence that a dog tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. It is believed that the virus was transmitted from a human to the dog. There is no evidence that animals can spread COVID-19 to humans.
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 will impact:
• Military working dog (MWD) readiness
• The health of other government-owned animals
• Beneficiaries' pets
Always Practice Routine Hygiene When Handling or Caring for Animals
Always follow these basic hygiene practices when handling animals, regardless of COVID-19-related concerns. Doing so will protect you from various bacteria that can pass between pets and their humans.
• Wash your hands before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies
• Avoid kissing, being licked by, or sharing food with animals
If you are SICK with COVID-19:
• Tell your medical provider if you have pets in your home.
• Limit your interactions with your pets and other animals, especially if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, or shortness of breath). Avoid petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food with your pets.
• Designate a healthy household member to care for pets (including service animals) in the home. If this is not possible, then the individual providing care should wash their hands before and after caring for pets and wear a facemask while interacting with them. Follow these precautions until you are medically cleared to return to normal activities.
Guidance for Public Health Professionals
In addition to the above information, the following interim guidance is for public health professionals managing the home care and isolation of people with COVID-19 who have pets or other animals (including service or working animals) in the same home. The intent of this guidance is to facilitate preparedness and establish practices that can help people and animals stay safe and healthy.
At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19. States may have their own specific requirements for these circumstances; this guidance provides recommendations for a conservative approach due to the unknown risks to pets and other animals. Guidance is based on the limited available data and general recommendations for zoonotic disease infection prevention and control. This is a rapidly evolving situation. Guidance will be updated as new information becomes available.
• Service animals should be permitted to remain with their handlers.
• Using the One Health approach, Public Health (PH), Preventive Medicine (PM), and VS should work together to share information. This includes, but is not limited to, conducting an informed risk assessment when a person with COVID-19 reports being in contact with companion or other animals. Depending on the scenario, management of the human patient as well as the pet involved may require significant collaboration among military, local, state, and other Federal veterinary and public health authorities.
• When a military public health professional is notified of an animal in the home of a person with COVID-19, they should notify Army VS personnel.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2019 Novel Coronavirus Website. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/. This website has the most up to date information about the 2019-nCoV outbreak including general information, recommendations, and outbreak maps. The Website also contains a robust FAQ section including questions on pets and other animals and animal products.
World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). https://www.oie.int/scientific-expertise/.