COVID-19 Updates and Resources

Evaluation for SARS-CoV Testing in Animals

The CDC, USDA, and other federal agencies have developed guidance to help guide decisions and prioritize situations that may warrant SARS-CoV-2 testing in mammalian animal species including companion animals, livestock, wild and zoo animals.

The key points of this guidance are as follows:

  • Routine testing of animals for SARS-CoV-2 is not recommended.
  • The decision to test an animal (including companion animals, livestock, and wild or zoo animals) should be agreed upon using a One Health approach between appropriate local, state, and/or federal public health and animal health officials.
  • This document provides recommendations to guide priorities for animal SARS-CoV-2 testing given limited resources.
  • Veterinarians are strongly encouraged to rule out other, more common causes of illness in animals before considering SARS-CoV-2 testing.

View the full guidance on the CDC website here.

Zoo and Aquarium Workers added to CISA Guidance on Essential Personnel

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently ammended their Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce to clarify the descriptions of some essential services and functions in the list. This update include the addition of the following clarification under Other Community-or-Government-Based Operations and Essential Functions: ” Workers performing services to animals in human care, including zoos and aquariums”.

This guidance is advisory in nature. Please refer to your local jurisdiction for specific guidance for your area.
Emerging research on species susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2

This article, currently available ahead-of-print contains findings of a multi-national study, looking at the composition of the ACE2 receptor in many vertebrates. As previously described in other studies, the ACE2 receptor in humans is much like a ‘lock’, and parts of the coronavirus acts as a ‘key’ to enter the cells and cause infection.

This study is useful, as it attempts to assign risk classifications to various vertebrates based upon their ACE2 similarity to the human receptors. This study describes how the researchers categorized risk, and contains an excellent table listing the various species they examined.

Broad Host Range of SARS-CoV-2 Predicted by Comparative and Structural Analysis of ACE2 in Vertebrates  –   Joana Damas, Graham M. Hughes, Kathleen C. Keough, Corrie A. Painter, Nicole S. Persky, Marco Corbo, Michael Hiller, Klaus-Peter Koepfli, Andreas R. Pfenning, Huabin Zhao, Diane P. Genereux, Ross Swofford, Katherine S. Pollard, Oliver A. Ryder, Martin T. Nweeia, Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Emma C. Teeling, Elinor K. Karlsson and Harris A. Lewin.

bioRxiv. posted 18 April 2020, 10.1101/2020.04.16.045302

Remember: there are multiple factors that cause disease in an individual (or species) besides ACE2 homogeneity. There may be other receptor types, yet to be identified, that also allow for infection and subsequent disease.  Continued research is needed to understand how SARS CoV-2 may impact non-domestic species in human care.

Additional Resources