COVID-19 Animal Transmission

fruit bat

We have the same questions you do-can animals spread COVID-19 to humans? Here’s what science has told us so far.

Overview

Because COVID-19 is a newer virus, there is minimal data available. At this time, the transmission is believed to be very low.

To clarify, coronavirus is a family of viruses and has multiple strains, including COVID-19. Some strains of coronavirus can only infect animals.  However, COVID-19 was believed to have mutated into a strain that jumped from a bat to a human.

Current Evidence and Published Studies

According to the CDC, cats and dogs have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. More recently, lions at Barcelona Zoo tested positive for COVID-19. In another instance, snow leopards tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. While it’s evident that the feline species can contract COVID-19, many other species are still in question.

A recent study showed that fruit bats, ferrets, and golden Syrian hamsters can be infected with the virus and spread it to each other in a laboratory setting. However, in the same study, mice, pigs, and poultry did not become infected or spread the infection.

These studies were based upon a small number of animals and do not indicate whether animals can spread the infection to people.

House pets can spread it to other house pets. Moreover, humans can spread it to animals.

CDC Recommendations

However, the CDC recommends isolating your pets as you would another human living in your household. It is proven that house pets can spread it to other house pets. Moreover, humans can spread it to animals. If one pet is sick, the CDC also recommends isolating it from other pets in your home.

As more information becomes available, we continue to research and learn as much about the virus as possible. As we work closely with animals, we take all proper precautions outlined by the CDC and PA Game Commission to keep you, your family, and our team safe.

The Rabies Vaccine

Receiving the rabies vaccine is not the most pleasant experience. Len, our owner and operator, has experienced these vaccines.

Rabies is an overwhelming topic, so we’ll start with the basics. Rabies is a disease caused by a virus. Furthermore, it attacks the brain and the central nervous system. We’ll explain how the disease is transmitted, what to do if you’re exposed, symptoms of rabies, and the rabies vaccine.

How is it Transmitted?

Infected saliva must touch a break in the skin. This can occur multiple ways: being bitten by an animal or an animal licking a break in the skin. Additionally, if an animal licks one’s nose, mouth, or eyes it can be transmitted. Extremely common carriers of rabies include groundhogs, skunks, raccoons, bats, dogs, cats, coyotes, and foxes.

Potential Exposure

If you have been bitten, immediately clean the wound with soap and water. If possible, try to observe the animal. Moreover, observation should take place for ten days to see if it exhibits unusual behavior. If the animal does not act strange, you may not need the vaccine. On the other hand, it is always better to be safe.

Additionally, if the animal has been or can be captured, it can be tested. Contact the PA State Game Commission for help when capturing a potentially rabid animal. The Department of Agriculture provides more information about testing.

If no one is familiar with the animal and it can’t be observed, contact your local health department or an infectious disease expert. The disease expert can often be reached at your local hospital. The CDC should also be contacted.

Symptoms of Rabies

After exposure, rabies has a very long incubation period. This period can range anywhere from two weeks to two months. Once the symptoms start, there is no stopping them. Not getting the vaccine isn’t worth the risk. Ultimately, it’s always fatal and non reversible.

Early Signs of Rabies:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore Throat
  • Vomiting
  • Headache

More Advanced Signs:

  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty Swallowing

Final symptoms of rabies consist of paralysis, coma, and death.

The Rabies Vaccine

If you think that you may be exposed, consult with your doctor. Only hospitals carry the two-part vaccine, so an ER visit is necessary.

The exposure vaccine is completed in 4 doses:

First, one dose is given right away which is paired with the immune globulin. The globulin kick-starts the immune system and provides protection before the vaccine works.

Next, another dose is given at the third day. It is followed by a dose the seventh day. Finally, the last dose is given on the fourteenth day.

Comparatively, a preventative vaccine is another option. It’s extremely beneficial for people who work around animals such as a veterinarian or an animal control expert.

Vaccine Symptoms

Furthermore, there is a wide list of side effects and complications that can occur with the vaccine. As with any shot, soreness, redness, swelling or itching is very common near the injection site. In addition, a lower percentage of recipients experience headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, and dizziness.

Keep an eye out for symptoms that indicate an allergic reaction:

  • High Fever
  • Behavior Changes
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the Face and Throat
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Elevated Heart Rate

EPM Threat to Horses from Opossums

Opossums and your horse’s health

One disease that horse owners in North America (particularly on the east coast) should be aware of is EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis).

EPM is a neurological disease that is often difficult to diagnose due to varying symptoms. Moreover, it is important that owners are aware of the disease as it can be fatal if it goes untreated.

Furthermore, this particular parasite attacks the brain and spinal cord. Ultimately, it causes devastating and long-lasting damage to the nervous system.

Luckily, Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis is treatable and horses recover well if it is treated promptly. Additionally, most horses show improvement after a few weeks of treatment.

How is EPM Contracted?

The primary cause of EPM is opossum droppings. Furthermore, horses contract the disease from eating contaminated feed or grazing.

What are the symptoms?

EPM presents itself subtly or severely.  It can present symptoms similar to several other neurological diseases in horses. Common symptoms shown are:

  • Changes in gait, lameness
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Problems balancing with lifted hoof
  • Incoordination (worsens going up or down slopes)
  • Muscle atrophy, usually over shoulders
  • Paralysis of muscles of the eyes, face, or mouth, evident by drooping eyes, ears, or lips.
  • Mild depression
  • Trouble swallowing, dropping feed.
  • Leaning on a wall for balance
  • Loss of sensation along the face, neck, or body.
  • A drooping lip or repeated facial twitch
  • Change in vision
  • Dropped feed or trouble swallowing
  • Head tilt
  • Drooping ear
  • Changes in behavior, including throwing the rider

How is EPM prevented?

As there are no preventable vaccines for EPM, the most effective preventative measure is to keep opossums away from horses and their feed. Ultimately, we recommend keeping feed covered when not in use and removing any garbage as soon as possible.

If you have a problem with opossums on your property, particularly if they pose a threat to your horse’s safety, don’t hesitate to call us for professional opossum removal.