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).
Thank you for your continued business and support. Please stay safe.
Dr. Shuping Zhang
Director, Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
Professor, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology
MU’s Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab screens harvested deer for chronic wasting disease
The Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Missouri is helping to improve the testing of deer in Missouri after continued reports of chronic wasting disease. This illness is found in deer populations and affects the neurologic system, commonly causing chronic weight loss. Chronic wasting disease is fatal in all deer it infects, and left unchecked, has the potential to wipe out Missouri’s white tail deer population. Throughout Missouri, testing for the disease is vital and MU’s lab, housed in the College of Veterinary Medicine, is aiding statewide efforts by providing testing in a timely manner.
As a Level 1 laboratory in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the MU laboratory tests more than 1,000 samples of deer tissue a day during the deer hunting season. The lab works with the Missouri Department of Conservation to help protect deer as a food source for Missourians and slow the spread of chronic wasting disease.
“Our partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation to test for chronic wasting disease helps enhance the testing capacity and capabilities in our state,” said Shuping Zhang, director of the laboratory at MU. “It also helps hunters know the results in a timely manner.”
This rapid data collection allows the disease management team and researchers to gain more insight into chronic wasting disease and its potential to affect humans. While there have been no known cases to date of this disease infecting humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people do not consume the meat of diseased animals.
The Missouri Department of Conservation requires all deer to be presented for testing that are harvested during the opening weekend of firearms season within the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone, totaling 29 Missouri counties. For 2019, the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone includes all counties within 10 miles of chronic wasting disease detections. Programs such as Share the Harvest, a system that makes it easier for hunters to donate surplus venison to low income individuals in Missouri, will only accept and package meat that tests negative from the 29 counties within the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone.
Voluntary chronic wasting disease sampling is available in several Missouri Department of Conservation offices and numerous taxidermists and meat processors throughout the state. A full list of these participating locations can be found on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website.
“Encouraging hunters to test deer for chronic wasting disease will allow labs like ours to have a positive impact on the health of the state,” Zhang said.
Contact: Brian Consiglio, (573) 882-9144, email@example.com
The city of Columbia has made address changes to a number of university street addresses. 810 E. Campus Loop will no longer be a valid street address to submit to. Please carefully review the information below to assure safe delivery to the VMDL:
Shipping Methods to Ensure Safe Delivery mail to the MU VMDL
1. FedEx Billable Stamps. Pre-printed FedEx Billable Stamps that have previously been provided by the MU VMDL are still safe to use.
2. New Address for UPS/FedEx. Please note that 810 E. Campus Loop is our old address. Clients that will be submitting via FedEx/UPS courier delivery, but do not have a pre-printed FedEx billable stamp provided by the VMDL, should ship to the following address to help ensure your shipment isn’t delayed.
Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab
901 E. Campus Loop
Columbia, MO 65211
3. Via US Post Office. If submitting via US Post Office; use the following PO Box address:
Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab
PO Box 6023
Columbia, MO 65205
After hours samples (not for necropsy) can also be dropped off and logged in at the small animal front desk (enter through emergency doors on the street level) of the Veterinary Health Center – Columbia.
We are sorry for any confusion this may cause. Thank you for your business!