Drug, medical supply shortages due to COVID-19 may disrupt veterinary care

AVMA says it is concerned about potential disruption in the pharmaceutical supply chain and advises on how to best protect pets

As novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the world, the potential impact of the virus on the veterinary industry remains widely unknown.

To that end, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is actively monitoring developments on COVID-19 as it relates to animals and sharing what it learns on its website.

“Our goal is to support you with relevant information in this fast-evolving situation,” the organization said in a statement. “We are in regular contact with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), veterinary medical experts, and international agencies to gain the latest resources and intel on the disease and its causative virus (SARS-CoV-2).”

One primary concern at this time, AVMA says, is a potential risk for shortages in the medical supply chain, including pharmaceuticals (i.e. active pharmaceutical ingredients [APIs]) and medical products (i.e. personal protective equipment). Specifically, AVMA says, there may be disruption in the U.S. market of FDA-approved drugs produced in China. In response, FDA has created a webpage to keep medical professionals informed about potential shortages for drugs and medical supplies.

Regarding interaction with pets, CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) say there is no evidence that companion animals can spread COVID-19. However, those who are sick with COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals, just as they should with people, until more information is known about the virus.

“When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick,” CDC says. “If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a face mask.”

At this time, one dog, who belongs to a woman in Hong Kong infected with the virus, has tested “weak positive” for COVID-19. The animal, AVMA says, has since received a second positive result, which has been sent to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The precise meaning of “weak positive” remains unclear and further evaluation is ongoing. The dog, a Pomeranian, does not appear to have any relevant symptoms of the virus, but remains quarantined, Hong Kong officials say.

For more from AVMA, click here.

COVID-19: WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOU AND YOUR STAFF?
As there is currently no vaccine for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus and to follow strict handwashing and other hygiene protocols, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says.

The organization recommends the following:

  • Designate your practice/workplace as a temporary “no handshake zone”
  • Practice good hygiene—remind your staff to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (especially after using the restroom; before eating; after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; and between client/patient visits). If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 to 95 percent alcohol
  • Place hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and tissues in all exam rooms, meeting rooms, restrooms, break rooms, and other common areas
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth
  • Ensure staff members have received the annual influenza vaccine
  • Impose home isolation for any team members with symptoms of respiratory disease (e.g. fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, etc.). Additionally, CDC recommends individuals remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100 F [37.8 C]) or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Take steps to prevent the spread of disease among veterinary personnel and to/from clients by following guidelines and procedures laid out in the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) Compendium of Veterinary Standard Precautions for Zoonotic Disease Prevention in Veterinary Personnel (found online here).
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