COVID – 19: VCN Adopts a Protocol for Animals as Fears of Zoonotic Transmission Heightens

Since the SARS-coV-2 virus which is the cause of the raging COVID 19 pandemic is still under study, experts have suggested that there are high chances of animals becoming infected and transmitting the virus to humans. Should this happen at a pandemic level, the global livestock/pet industry would become seriously threatened. To this end, the Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN) has formulated, validated, and adopted a protocol for testing, handling, and prevention of COVID-19 in animals.

Presenting the document at a stakeholder’s meeting which took place on Wednesday 11th November 2020 at the Nigerian Army Resource Center Abuja, Dr Usman Adekanye, a member of the infection prevention and control pillar of the FCT COVID-19 emergency operation committee, stated that the protocol is meant to highlight the importance of COVID-19 in animals and provide a standard protocol for diagnosis, management, and prevention of the SARS cov-2 virus in animals.

“So far, there is no recorded case of animal infection in Nigeria. But we have developed this protocol ahead of time to serve as a guide in the testing and prevention should there be any outbreak of the infection in animals in the country”. Dr Adekanye called on all stakeholders to make inputs to make the document a better tool for prevention and control of the disease in animals.

After the presentation, representatives of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, the National Coordinator of Presidential Taskforce Force on COVID-19, Food and Agriculture Organization, ECOWAS, FCT COVID-19 Emergency operations committee, and the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association took turns to make inputs about the document and present their goodwill messages. All the stakeholders at the meeting came to a unanimous decision that the document being the first of its kind in the African region is a good document that should be adopted and implemented in all veterinary premises, and livestock establishments.

In his address, the chief veterinary officer of Nigeria, Dr Olaniran Alabi who was represented by Dr Mrs Habib Maimuna commended members of the protocol drafting committee, the VCN and the entire veterinary community for achieving this feat. Dr Maimuna led stakeholders present in the meeting in adopting the protocol.

In a keynote address at the occasion, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono who was represented by Dr Saleh Momale congratulated the VCN for been very proactive in developing such a standard protocol even with no recorded case of the virus in animals in Nigeria. The honourable minister reiterated his resolve to always support the council in order to ensure that the mandate of the council is effectively pursued at all times.

Earlier in a welcome address, the president of VCN, AIG Aisha Abubakar Baju stated that council saw the need for the document and partnered with relevant agencies in developing such a world class protocol that will be implemented to ensure that the animal population is not threatened by the virus and in the long run safeguard the health of humans and ensure food security. She commended the protocol drafting team for their hard work which has led to the production of the document in record time. She called on all veterinarians to redouble their efforts in the fight against COVID-19.

Group photo of participants at the presentation of protocol for preventing zoonotic transmission of Covid 19 in Nigeria

The FCT administration had in March 2020 drafted about 11 veterinarians into the COVID-19 emergency operations committee to combat the spread of the virus in the FCT. The veterinary component of the infection prevention and control pillar of the committee headed by Dr Ade Jolaosho in June 2020 organized a sensitization workshop for private and public veterinarians in the FCT. Discussions and the communiqué drafted at the end of the workshop formed the basis for the protocol which was developed by a team of experienced veterinarians in partnership with other relevant agencies and is to be adopted for full implementation in all states of the federation.

The covid-19 pandemic has continued to spread across the world with 216 countries now affected and over 21 million people infected globally. Recorded cases of the infection are also on the increase. LIVESTONEWS.

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