COVID 19: Veterinarians put on alert as fears of zoonotic transmission heightens

Report by Dr Saater Kumaga

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Amidst reports of COVID 19 infections in animals in some parts of the world, the FCT COVID-19 emergency operations center recently organized a sensitization workshop for veterinarians in public and private service in the FCT, to prepare them against chances of spread of the SAR-Cov-2 virus from animals to animals and animals to humans. The workshop held on 25th June 2020 at the Abuja Area Council municipal hall.

A communiqué issued at the end of the workshop which was read by the chairman of the Infection prevention and control pillar of the FCT COVID-19 emergency operations center, Dr Yakubu Muhammed, indicates that all veterinarians are frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19 and must work to prevent the spread of the virus in their respective practicing premises. It was agreed that all veterinarians will strictly adhere to the guidelines issued by the NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health and human services in addition to the special guidelines that are peculiar to practices of veterinarians that will help in preventing the spread of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

The infection prevention and control team also resolved to draft veterinarians into a response team that will function at airports and other strategic places to check movement of animals especially pets across borders. Zoos and wildlife parks, abattoirs and livestock markets are to follow strict operating guidelines to forestall the possible spread of the virus. The proper use of personal protective equipment and proper hand washing in all veterinary clinics and all livestock premises was emphasized.

In his lecture at the workshop, Dr Usman Adekanye of the Ministry of Defense called on veterinarians to be watchful in their clinics and minimize entry of sick clients into the clinics.  “About 25 animals globally have tested positive to COVID-19 and their source of infection were traced to their caregivers and owners who had tested positive. This indicates that transmission from humans to animals is already ongoing. So far, there is no recorded case of animal to animal and animal to human transmission of the virus. But since the disease is still under study, we have to guard against such transmissions which have not been ruled out”.  Dr Adekanye who is a member of the Emergency Operations Team, called on veterinarians to develop a case definition system to enable every animal health worker detect symptoms of COVID-19 in any animal that may manifest such signs.

In another lecture titled Animals and COVID-19, Introduction to infection prevention and control in veterinary care setting, Dr Ade Jolaosho spoke extensively on the use of personal protective equipment and how to handle clients that present their animals to the clinic in order to reduce the number of persons that enter such premises. He advised veterinarians to make use of telemedicine and other windows in history taking and giving of advice to clients to reduce the number of clients coming into the clinics and the time interaction with those who comes into the clinic.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the chairman of the infection prevention and control pillar of the emergency operation center, Dr Yakubu Mohammed identified the key role veterinarians have to play in the prevention and control of COVID-19. He called on all veterinarians to see themselves as frontline workers in the fight against the virus.

The workshop attracted veterinarians in both public and private service in the FCT including some members of the governing board of Veterinary Council of Nigeria and officials of the FCT chapter of Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association.

It will be recalled that the FCT administration in March 2020, drafted about 11 veterinarians into the FCT COVID-19 emergency operations team to combat the spread of the disease in the FCT. LIVESTONEWS.

Some participants at the COVID 19 sensitisation workshop which recently held in Abuja



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