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Livestock, companion animals and COVID-19

March 13, 2020

Coronaviruses are one of the most common viruses we know of and are nothing new to the animal world. The CDC has stated, “While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source ... There is no reason to think that any animals, including pets in the United States, might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus [COVID-19].”

Other coronaviruses

There is a species-specific coronavirus for almost every animal. Still, when it comes to our livestock (cows, pigs, goats, sheep) and companion animals (dogs, cats, horses), there is no evidence these viruses are able to infect humans (zoonotic).

So, should you be worried about COVID-19 affecting your livestock or companion animals? Or should you be concerned about your livestock or companion animals being a source of COVID-19? In short, the evidence suggests there is no need to worry about either situation.

Keep in mind other diseases are zoonotic, so it is always a great idea to wash your hands after touching or working with any animals. This is especially true for people who are considered immunocompromised, such as young children, older adults, pregnant women, or anyone with an immune compromising condition.

Stay safe out there. Continue to pet (and hug) your favorite livestock or companion animals.

For more information on this topic, see the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

Joe Armstrong, DVM, Extension educator in livestock and cattle production

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