A Critical Needs Assessment for Research in Companion Animals and Livestock Following the Pandemic of COVID-19 in Humans.Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2020 06; 20(6):393-405.VB
Problem: The emergence of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in Wuhan, China, in November 2019 and a growing body of information compel inquiry regarding the transmissibility of infection between humans and certain animal species. Although there are a number of issues to be considered, the following points are most urgent: The potential for domesticated (companion) animals to serve as a reservoir of infection contributing to continued human-to-human disease, infectivity, and community spread. The ramifications to food security, economy, and trade issues should coronavirus establish itself within livestock and poultry. The disruption to national security if SARS-CoV-2 and its fairly well-established effects on smell (hyposmia/anosmia) to critical military service animals including explosive detector dog, narcotics detector dog, specialized search dog, combat tracker dog, mine detection dog, tactical explosive detector dog, improvised explosive device detector dog, patrol explosive detector dog, and patrol narcotics detector dog, as well as multipurpose canines used by special operations such as used by the U.S. customs and border protection agency (e.g., Beagle Brigade). This article presents in chronological order data that both individually (as received independently from multiple countries) and collectively urge studies that elucidate the following questions. 1.What animal species can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the likely sources of infection, the period of infectivity, and transmissibility between these animals and to other animal species and humans? 2.What are the best diagnostic tests currently available for companion animals and livestock? 3.What expressions of illness in companion and other animal species can serve as disease markers? Although it is recognized that robust funding and methodology need to be identified to apply the best scientific investigation into these issues, there may be easily identifiable opportunities to capture information that can guide decision and study. First, it may be possible to quickly initiate a data collection strategy using in-place animal gatekeepers, such as zookeepers, veterinarians, kennel owners, feed lots, and military animal handlers. If provided a simple surveillance form, their detection of symptoms (lethargy, hyposmia, anosmia, and others) might be quickly reported to a central data collection site if one were created. Second, although current human COVID-19 disease is aligning around areas of population density and cluster events, it might be possible to overlay animal species density or veterinary reports that could signal some disease association in animals with COVID-19 patients. Unfortunately, although companion animals and zoo species have repeatedly served as sentinels for emerging infectious diseases, they do not currently fall under the jurisdiction of any federal agency and are not under surveillance.