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SDDDC· Ten Lessons | Lesson 4. COVID-19 and farm animals

2021-1-18 15:18:38 Comments:0 Views:413 category:SDDDC News

“Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent”   --R.D. Laing 

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a zoonosis, which means that the disease can be transmitted from animals to humans. Many things have been written and said about COVID-19 and humans, but little is known about farm animals. Presently, there are no indications that farm animals and pets play a role in the current pandemic outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing COVID-19. 

There is a wide variety of coronaviruses in nature that can cause diseases in many animal species. For example, canine coronavirus (CCV) in dogs, feline coronavirus (FCV) in cats, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), porcine respiratory coronavirus(PRCV) in pigs and infectious bronchitis virus (IBD) in chickens. These viruses differ from SARS-CoV-2 and are mostly species-specific and non-zoonotic, meaning that they cannot be transferred to humans. 

As for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, it is generally agreed that there is a minimum chance of this coronavirus infecting a(farm) animal. Globally, only a few cases in animals have been reported. In the Netherlands, multiple mink farms became infected and according to the Dutch government, it seems plausible that some people working at mink farms were infected by minks. Tigers in a zoo in New York were tested positive for this coronavirus, as were some cats in Hong Kong and Belgium and two dogs in Hong Kong, and one in NorthCarolina. In all cases, the animals showed mild symptoms, and their owners were tested positive. There are currently no indications that animals form a source of infection for humans. Nevertheless, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)asks member countries to share relevant developments regarding (possible) emerging animal diseases. Therefore, veterinarians are requested to contact national authorities in cases where a COVID-infection is suspected. 

COVID-19 patients and farm animals   

Preventive measures are key and this precautionary principle also applies to animals used for food production until more information on the risks becomes available. Livestock farmers infected with COVID-19 are advised to avoid any contact with their animals, to not go into the sheds, and to let others take care of the livestock. When a pet or farm animal has been in contact with a COVID-19 patient, no additional measures are needed. General hygiene measures applicable to human-animal interaction, such as washing hands with water and soap, are sufficient. The Dutch government (like many others)developed also a general hygiene protocol. 

General hygiene measures on farms (Dutch protocol)    


In animal care facilities, general hygiene measures are sufficient. These measures also apply to veterinary clinics.


Adhere to hygiene measures: often wash your hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds, especially after having been to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and between meeting different clients/patients. 


When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.


Provide disinfectant, wipes, and tissues in all research locations, meeting rooms, toilets, break rooms, and other

communal areas.


Do not touch eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.


Cough and sneeze in the elbow or use a tissue to cover the nose and mouth and dispose of the tissue immediately

after use.


Additional measures are in place when animals suspect of having the coronavirus are treated or examined in a veterinary clinic.


Do not allow pets to lick and wash hands immediately after having been in contact with animals, their food, or their feces.


New zoonoses will undoubtedly show up in the future. Learning from COVID-19 might help us to be better prepared for them. 

Case study: CRV and COVID-19 

COVID-19 also forced CRV to adapt its standard practices to prevent spreading the disease. (Jan Lok, Managing DirectorBU Global Sales at CRV) 

As a global company active in over 60 countries, CRV had to deal with a broad range of different measures implemented by (local) governments. It was impossible to formulate just one way of working, as the situation differed from country to country and the reactions of our customers to the between countries as well. 

CRV formulated some guidelines to work with: 


The health of our employees and customers is our first priority;


We will fully comply with the measures of the government; 


We will try to continue our services and supply to our customers under these conditions; 


We will not visit farms without the prior consent of the farmer/owner;


We will keep a minimum distance of 1,5 meter from farmworkers during all visits; 


CRV will do its utmost to support farms in continuing to safely produce milk and meat. 

As in most countries in which the services and products of CRV are considered to be essential, CRV has been able to continue its business in most countries, although farm visits have been reduced to the minimum.

Collection of data from farms is done digitally and advice is given by telephone and through other digital tools. The period during which most employees were working from their homes was used to maximize contact with customers and support them with useful information via e-mail, WhatsApp, seminars, etc. For many customers, this period was also a time to reflect upon their activities and to make plans for the future. CRVwants to be involved in this planning and helps farmers, and farm owners, to make the right decisions. For CRV it was a challenge to organize the logistics of the products between countries, especially where air freight was involved. Costs increased significantly, but the most important thing for us is to keep the supply of our goods to our customers going. International travels came to a complete stop, all contacts with our customers took place in a digital way.

During the crisis, CRV has been able to continue its business and serve its customers.

Some important lessons learned:

• To continue business in times of crisis, we need  creativity, cooperation, and persistence;

• To continue business in times of crisis, we need  creativity, cooperation, and persistence;

• Stay in close contact with the customers and make things work;

• Personal contact is important but within good relationships, things can also work well from a distance.




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