The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, is investigating certain Sportmix pet food products manufactured by Midwestern Pet Food, Inc. that may contain potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin.
There is no evidence that humans can get COVID-19 from pets or livestock.
Testing Pets for COVID-19:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) agree that there is no need to routinely test companion animals for COVID-19 at this time.
- In agreement with these recommendations, the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) will not authorize testing of the general companion animal population.
- The decision to test an animal must be authorized by Missouri State Veterinarian Dr. Steve Strubberg or, in the event he is unavailable, Missouri Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Jean Schmidt, in conjunction with Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Howard Pue or, in the event he is unavailable, OVPH Senior Epidemiology Specialist Molly Baker.
- The Missouri state and public health veterinarians can only authorize testing of Missouri origin animals.
Authorization for testing will be conducted on a case-by-case basis:
- When requested by a private veterinarian who is reporting:
- A new, concerning illness that cannot be otherwise explained, AND
- The companion animal has had close contact with a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection, AND
- That testing for infectious diseases that commonly cause companion animal illness has been conducted to rule out COVID-19.
- When requested by academic institutions for the purpose of research:
- The proposal, sampling criteria, animal species and scope of the project will be outlined prior to authorization.
- Researchers will establish an endpoint for each study in conjunction with MDA based upon time and date or number of animals/households tested.
- If the scope of the project, the testing criteria, or the endpoint changes, the state veterinarian must authorize those changes.
- Researchers must obtain institutional approval prior to the start of their project.
- Once the decision is made to test, the state veterinarian will authorize and designate a state-appointed veterinarian, USDA accredited veterinarian, or foreign animal disease diagnostician (FADD) to collect the sample using appropriate personal protective equipment.
- Sample collection methods will be verified with guidance from the University of Missouri Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.
- Official sampling will follow USDA guidance.
Laboratory and Reporting:
- The University of Missouri Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory will conduct initial animal testing and provide test kits to authorized veterinarians.
- SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) detection in any animal is reportable per OIE guidance.
- Positive results
- Will require confirmation through additional testing by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL).
- Will only be reported publicly when confirmed by NVSL and information has been communicated with the Missouri state veterinarian and the public health veterinarian.
- MDA will communicate the information to USDA, AVMA, CDC and National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials (NASAHO) and work with those groups for unified messaging.
Management of animals in COVID-19 positive households:
- MDA will default to AVMA guidance and CDC’s guidance concerning the management of animals in shelters and households in which a human has tested positive for COVID-19.
- There is no current guidance available regarding quarantine of test positive dogs, cats or other pets. MDA will follow any guidance provided by the USDA/CDC working group if new information becomes available.
- If an animal has a positive result, MDA will not remove the animal from the home.
- AVMA guidance states that every effort should be made to allow companion animals to continue to co-habitate with their family when possible. However, if temporary sheltering becomes necessary, a number of precautionary steps should be taken including:
- Dogs should be walked outside for elimination and exercise but direct contact with other companion animals should be avoided as a best practice to protect animal health.
- Feces should be collected using gloved hands or a bag and disposed of immediately.
- Ideally, these dogs should be walked in an area that can be readily sanitized in a dedicated area separate from the general animal population.
Important COVID-19 Resources:
The University of Missouri has announced changing policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although policies change on a daily basis, the VMDL will do its utmost to continue serving its clients throughout these difficult times. The VMDL will operate with reduced staffing and mission critical personnel in all lab sections.
How does this impact our clients?
- Our facilities will be secured and no clients or visitors will be allowed inside. We will provide a drop box for daytime sample submission located outside our receiving entrance. This drop box will not be available after hours. We encourage clients to prepare paperwork in advance.
- We will continue to receive specimens via FedEx, FedEx billable stamps, UPS, and US Mail.
- Turnaround times and testing capabilities may be impacted. We will do our best to meet your needs, but it may take longer than usual.
What about necropsies?
- We encourage our clients to consider field necropsy with tissue collection as an alternative to whole animal submission, whenever possible.
- When submitting a whole body, please have paperwork ready. We will be limiting in-person interactions and will offload the specimen with the client remaining in their vehicle. Smaller animals may be placed in the drop box.
- Digital photographs of gross lesions may be submitted with field necropsy specimens, when available. Please call 573-882-6811 if you would like to provide images with your submission.
- We will be limiting necropsy specimen submission to daytime business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 AM- 5 PM).
- Note: The VMDL does NOT accept live animals for necropsy (excluding avian/poultry). Euthanasia may be performed by the referring veterinarian, or an appointment may be scheduled with the appropriate service at the Veterinary Health Center.
Thank you for your continued business and support. Please stay safe.
Dr. Shuping Zhang
Director, Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
Professor, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology