Archive for the ‘COVID-19’ Category

Feb 26, 2021

VetStem CEO Discusses Stem Cells and COVID-19 on Podcast

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Stem Cells, VetStem

VetStem founder and CEO, Dr. Bob Harman, was recently featured on a San Diego-based podcast to discuss all things stem cells, including the current COVID-19 clinical trial developed by our human company, Personalized Stem Cells.

One Medicine: Animal Data Helping People

We have previously blogged about a concept we call “One Medicine,” also known as translational medicine, in which advances in the veterinary field lead to advances in human medicine. In the last year, this notion has really come to the forefront, as we were hit with the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is very common for human scientists and doctors to review data obtained from animals when developing a new drug or technology. In a previous blog, we discussed how animal data was utilized to expedite development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, evaluation of COVID-19 positive animals has helped researchers understand how the virus functions and how it is transmitted in various species.

A graphic of a chest and lungs on a black background. The lungs are highlighted blue implying inflammation from COVID-19 infection

Data from VetStem Patients Helps People with COVID-19

VetStem has also joined the ranks in the fight against COVID-19. In fact, it was VetStem’s 15+ years of veterinary stem cell data that led to the development of an FDA approved COVID-19 stem cell clinical trial in human patients. Our human stem cell company, Personalized Stem Cells, Inc., developed and received FDA approval for the clinical trial and then licensed it to Sorrento Therapeutics. The study is well underway and the preliminary results look very promising.

In addition to discussing our contributions to the COVID-19 clinical trial, Dr. Harman also discussed our work with exotics organizations and specifically mentions helping an arthritic Sun Bear at the San Diego Zoo. He gives a bit of history regarding VetStem’s formation, treating his border collie Ben, as well as his own treatment with stem cell therapy for a rotator cuff injury.

Click here to listen to the podcast!

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Jan 8, 2021

COVID-19 Transmission in Cats

Posted by Bob under Cats, COVID-19

As we begin 2021 and remain in the midst of a global pandemic, we wanted to revisit the topic of COVID-19 in animals. In previous blogs, we discussed the spread of the novel coronavirus from humans to animals and from animal to animal. While we know that animals can become infected with COVID-19, the CDC continues to report that there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 in Animals

You may remember that the first reported case of a pet with COVID-19 was a dog in Hong Kong. From there, more reports emerged of animals infected with the virus. In the United States, the first report of a COVID-19 positive animal was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Several other large cats at the facility went on to test positive in the following weeks. After that, it was two cats from separate households in New York, both of which likely contracted the virus from a COVID-19 positive owner. At the time, I remember wondering about the link between cats and COVID-19 and whether there was any significance there.

As the weeks and months went on, more and more reports of COVID-19 positive animals came out. Dogs, cats, minks, more exotic large cats. As of late December 2020, the USDA reported a total of 11 exotic cats (tigers, lions, and a snow leopard) and 54 domestic cats in the United States tested positive for COVID-19. This in comparison to a total of 38 COVID-19 positive dogs.

Cats Infected with COVID-19

While it is clear that some animals are more susceptible to the virus, there isn’t much information regarding COVID-19 within specific species. For instance, it is not currently clear how many COVID-19 positive cats experience symptoms. It appears that some cats have symptoms while others are asymptomatic. But we do not yet know why that is the case.

We also do not know the death rate in cats with COVID-19. There is news that a cat in Pennsylvania that had COVID-19 was humanely euthanized due to respiratory distress. There was another cat in Alabama that passed away and was COVID-19 positive however information suggests that the cat had additional health issues that were more likely the cause of death. Fortunately, it does not appear that cats are at high risk of death from COVID-19 infection. But more studies are necessary to understand how this virus affects our four-legged companions.

COVID-19 Transmission in Cats

In November, a study out of Kansas State University confirmed some of my suspicions regarding COVID-19 transmission in cats. The study concluded that cats infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) can be asymptomatic and still easily spread the infection to other cats. The study found that the virus is shed through an asymptomatic cat’s nasal, oral, and rectal cavities and that they can infect other cats within 2 days of contracting the virus.

While more research is needed, this information is crucial to understanding how the virus is transmitted in cats. And though we mentioned it before, it is worth repeating: there is still no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people. There is, however, significant evidence to suggest people spread the virus to animals. So, if you or a family member is suspected to have, or tests positive for, COVID-19, the CDC recommends avoiding contact with your pets.

More Studies Are Needed

There is still so much to learn about the novel coronavirus. More studies are underway to determine how this virus operates and what we can do to keep everyone, both ourselves and our pets, safe. For now, we will continue to do our best to keep ourselves and others healthy. At VetStem, we continue to follow our local ordinances by social distancing, wearing masks, and requiring employees to stay home if they have symptoms or exposure. Though these are scary and uncertain times, we hope that the start of 2021 finds you and your loved ones, two- and four-legged, happy and healthy.

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Aug 21, 2020

August Update: COVID-19 in Animals in the United States

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

Since our last update, several more cats and dogs have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the United States. Below is a list from the USDA website of animals in the United States who are confirmed positive for the virus as of August 21, 2020.

Animals in the U.S. who have Tested Positive for SARS-CoV-2

Type of AnimalDate ConfirmedStateMethod of Initial Diagnosis*
Tiger~,a April 4, 2020New YorkPCR
Lion~,a April 15, 2020New York PCR
Cat~April 22, 2020New York PCR
Cat~April 22, 2020New York PCR
Dog~,bJune 1, 2020New YorkPCR, Ab
Cat~June 1, 2020MinnesotaPCR
Cat~June 4, 2020IllinoisPCR
Dog~June 24, 2020New YorkAb
Dog~June 24, 2020New YorkAb
Dog~ July 1, 2020GeorgiaPCR
Dog~ July 8, 2020TexasPCR
Cat~ July 8, 2020CaliforniaPCR
Dog~ July 9, 2020S. CarolinaPCR
Dog~ July 15, 2020 ArizonaPCR
Cat~ July 21, 20201 TexasPCR
Cat~ July 22, 20201TexasPCR
2 Cats, 1 Dog~ July 22, 20201  UtahAb
Cat~ July 22, 20201  Utah Ab
Cat~ July 22, 20201  Utah Ab
Dog~ July 22, 20201  Utah Ab
Dog~ July 22, 20201  WisconsinAb
Dog~ July 22, 20201  Wisconsin Ab
Dog~ July 22, 20201  N. CarolinaAb
Dog~ August 3, 2020  LouisianaPCR
Dog~ August 11, 2020  N. CarolinaPCR
2 CatsAugust 12, 20201New YorkAb
Mink~August 17, 2020UtahPCR
Mink~August 17, 2020UtahPCR

PCR:real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction; Ab: virus neutralizing antibody~Animal had exposure to a probable or confirmed human with COVID-19.Another three tigers and two lions at the same facility were all confirmed with SARS-CoV-2.A second dog in the household showed no signs of illness; virus neutralizing antibodies were also identified in that dog
1 Samples collected as part of planned and targeted active surveillance of a specific animal, with known or suspected exposures to a person with COVID-19 or other exposure to SARS-CoV-2, to better understand risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

Surveillance Testing to Study the Virus in Animals

Something to note is that most of the animals were exposed to the virus from a probable or confirmed positive COVID-19 human. You will also notice that several of the more recent animals were tested as part of a planned surveillance.

According to the CDC website, “CDC, USDA, and state public health and animal health officials are working in some states to conduct active surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in pets, including cats, dogs, and other small mammals, that had contact with a person with COVID-19. These animals are being tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection and also tested to see whether the pet develops antibodies to this virus.” This surveillance is being done to gain a better understanding of how common SARS-CoV-2 infection may be in animals. In addition, it may provide an understanding of the possible role that pets may play in the spread of the virus.

There is still no evidence to suggest that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. That being said, it is imperative that we understand as much as possible about this novel coronavirus. While the research is currently limited, there are studies underway to help us gain a better understanding of how the virus may affect various animals.  Though surveillance testing is being done, the CDC does not recommend routine testing of animals.

What to do if your Pet is Sick

If you are concerned your pet is sick, contact your veterinarian. The CDC is advising veterinarians to rule out other, more common illnesses before considering SARS-CoV-2 testing, especially in animals who have no known exposure to COVID-19. If your pet does in fact test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the CDC has provided some guidance on their website. While some pets displayed no symptoms at all, those who did get sick had mild symptoms and were able to be cared for at home. According to the CDC, none of the pets have died. It is important to remember the risk of pets spreading the virus to humans is considered to be low. There is no reason to abandon or surrender pets who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

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Jul 31, 2020

FDA Approved Stem Cell Clinical Trial for COVID-19

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Stem Cell Therapy

It is with immense pride that we announce our human company, Personalized Stem Cells, recently received FDA approval to treat COVID-19 patients in an upcoming clinical trial. Read PSC’s blog below:

Personalized Stem Cells (PSC) recently received FDA approval to treat COVID-19 patients with stem cells in an upcoming clinical trial. In April, we announced that we filed an expedited IND at the request of the White House Coronavirus Task Force to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. This approval is incredibly significant because patients will be treated with disease-screened, quality tested donor cells as opposed to their own stem cells. This is known as allogeneic stem cell therapy and is different from PSC’s current FDA approved clinical trial in which patients receive their own stem cells (autologous) to treat knee osteoarthritis.

Stem Cell Therapy for COVID-19

PSC has become a leader in the field, recently publishing a landmark peer-reviewed scientific article on the rationale behind using stem cells to treat COVID-19. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have demonstrated the capacity to inhibit lung damage, reduce inflammation, dampen immune responses and aid with alveolar fluid clearance. Additionally, MSCs produce molecules that are antimicrobial and reduce pain. Recently, the application of MSCs in the context of ongoing COVID-19 disease and other viral respiratory illnesses has demonstrated reduced patient mortality and, in some cases, improved long-term pulmonary function.

Based on information out of Israel, China, Spain and the United States, stem cells have shown promising effectiveness in the treatment of the major medical lung issues caused by COVID-19. Israel recently announced 100% recovery in seven COVID-19 patients who were treated with stem cell therapy. Spanish medical investigators reported on an adipose stem cell study in which 13 COVID-19 patients were treated using a protocol very similar to the one just approved for PSC. According to the results, the mortality rate in the treated patients was significantly decreased.

FDA Approved Clinical Trial: CoronaStem 1

The initial clinical trial, named CoronaStem 1, will include 20 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in California. Once complete, PSC hopes to move into a larger Phase 2 clinical study and potentially into FDA Expanded Use programs or Emergency Use Authorization, which could allow for many more patients to be treated.

In order to rapidly ramp up the production of stem cells for use in the clinical trial, PSC collaborated with Calidi Biotherapeutics, a biotechnology company based in San Diego, California. Calidi provided disease-screened, quality stem cell lines to PSC, enabling us to accelerate the stem cell drug manufacturing process. In addition, sister company and CRO, VetStem Biopharma, provided manufacturing and regulatory support to help make FDA approval a reality.

PSC is not currently soliciting patients for inclusion in CoronaStem 1 due to the limited number of hospitals participating in the study. For more information regarding future clinical trials, please contact us here.

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Jul 24, 2020

July Update: COVID-19 in Animals in the United States

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

It has been a little over a month since our last update regarding COVID-19 and animals in the United States. Altogether, the USDA has reported 18 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in animals in the United States. Of these 18 cases, 7 of them were tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo. The remainder were domestic cats and dogs.  

Ben wearing his dad’s mask for a quick photo op.

On the whole, the narrative remains the same as our previous updates. Based upon the limited number of confirmed positive cases, there are several probable conclusions we can draw:

1. Dogs and cats (as well as other species) can contract COVID-19

2. Most infected pets presumably contracted the virus from an infected pet owner/caregiver

3. Symptoms in dogs and cats tend to be mild, if not completely absent

4. Dogs and cats do not appear to be a source of COVID-19 and the risk of animals spreading the virus to humans appears to be low

With this information, the best we can do is be prepared. According to the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are some steps we can take to ensure the well being of ourselves and our families, both 2- and 4-legged.

  • Do not allow pets to interact with people or other animals outside of the home. Keep dogs on a leash and cats indoors and practice social distancing. Avoid public places where large groups of people and animals gather such as dog parks.
  • If you or a household member become sick with COVID-19, whether suspected or confirmed, avoid interaction with your pets as much as possible. If you must interact, wash your hands before and after interaction, wear a face covering (mask), and do not share items such as food, dishes, bedding, or towels.
  • It is wise to prepare an emergency kit for your pets should you be required to quarantine. The AVMA recommends your kit include at least 2 weeks’ worth of food and any needed medications. Additional items to include may be bedding, toys, and any other items to help keep your pet(s) healthy and happy.

For up-to-date information and other resources regarding animals and COVID-19, you can visit the AVMA website and CDC website.

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Jun 12, 2020

An Update on COVID-19 in Animals in the United States

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

As the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, we are still learning about how the virus may affect our pets. Since our last COVID-19 blog, there have been some additional developments regarding infected animals in the United States. We have shared some details below and will continue to provide relevant updates.

Update on Pug in North Carolina

In our last blog, we mentioned a pug in North Carolina who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Winston’s human family had all tested positive for COVID-19 so when he began to show signs of respiratory illness, his family took him to the vet. At that time, he tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 however confirmatory testing was still being done by the USDA National Veterinary Service Laboratory (NVSL).

It was recently announced however that the confirmatory testing came back negative. These results suggest that Winston was contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, likely from close interaction with his human family, however the contamination did not develop into an active infection. The virus did not enter his bloodstream or respiratory tract and according to the USDA, there was no evidence of an immune response.

German Shepherd in New York

The good news about Winston comes with the news of another dog who has become the first official positive case of COVID-19 in a dog in the United States. A German shepherd living in New York showed symptoms of respiratory illness and was later confirmed COVID-19 positive by the USDA NVSL. One of the dog’s owners is COVID-19 positive while the other owner had symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Another dog in the household had no symptoms of illness however antibodies were detected in samples suggesting exposure to the virus. The German shepherd is expected to make a full recovery.

Cats Test Positive in Minnesota and Illinois

In addition to the German shepherd, two more cats have recently tested positive for COVID-19. One cat is in Minnesota, the other in Illinois, and both live with owners who also tested positive for the virus. Both are also the first animals in their respective states to test positive for coronavirus.

Update on Tigers and Lions at Bronx Zoo

As we reported previously, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in an animal in the United States was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Shortly after, a lion at the zoo also tested positive. Several of the large cats were exhibiting symptoms and it was recently reported that additional testing confirmed 4 more tigers and 2 more lions were also positive for COVID-19. It is presumed that the large cats were exposed by a zookeeper who was actively shedding the virus. All of the infected cats are reportedly recovering well.

We Still Have More to Learn

We are still learning about this virus and how it may affect animals. At this time, it appears that animals may contract the virus from infected humans however animals do not appear to play a significant role in spreading the virus. The CDC and AVMA continue to recommend avoiding contact with your pets if you have COVID-19.

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May 8, 2020

An Update Regarding Pets and COVID-19

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

In a recent blog, we discussed animals from around the world who tested positive for COVID-19. To summarize, the number of positive cases were few and all shared one commonality: they were in close contact with a human caregiver/owner who was infected with COVID-19. Of the small number of cases, even fewer showed clinical signs. While one 17-year-old dog passed away, it was presumed that he died from ongoing health issues and other age-related concerns. The rest of the animals recovered, or were expected to recover, without incident. According to the CDC, “Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.”

Lion at the Bronx Zoo

In the weeks since that blog was published, a small number of new cases have been reported. As reported in the previous blog, the first case that was confirmed and reported in the United States was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo. The tiger, along with several other large cats, developed a dry cough and reduced appetite. One of the affected large cats, a lion, was tested a few weeks after the tiger and tested positive for COVID-19. It is believed that the animals were infected by a human caregiver who did not have symptoms but was actively shedding the virus. The affected cats are reported to be recovering well and no other animals at the zoo have shown symptoms.

Two Cats in New York

In addition, two domestic cats in New York have now tested positive for COVID-19. The cats were from different households and cities and both showed symptoms of respiratory disease. One cat lives in a household with an owner who has COVID-19 and a second cat that has had no clinical signs of illness.

The second cat to test positive for COVID-19 in New York is an indoor/outdoor cat. The cat does not live with an owner who has a confirmed case of COVID-19. It is suspected that this cat contracted COVID-19 from an owner who was asymptomatic or from contact with the virus outside of the home.

Pug in North Carolina

Making headlines recently was a pug in North Carolina who showed symptoms of respiratory disease and tested positive for COVID-19. The pug’s human family all have COVID-19 however another dog and a cat in the same house were negative. His owners stated, “(The dog) licks all of our dinner plates and sleeps in my mom’s bed, and we’re the ones who put our faces into his face. So, it makes sense that he got (coronavirus).” Confirmatory testing is still being conducted at USDA’s National Veterinary Service Laboratory. If those tests are confirmed, the case will be reported to the OIE – the World Organization for Animal Health. Winston, the pug, is already doing better.

The number of animals who have tested positive for COVID-19 remains low, thus the CDC does not currently recommend routine testing. If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of infection, call your veterinary provider. If you or a family member is sick, the CDC recommends you avoid contact and practice cleanliness when interacting with your pets. The CDC also recommends keeping cats indoors and dogs on leashes, avoiding interaction between your pets and other pets/humans, and avoiding places like dog parks and other areas where people and dogs gather.

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May 1, 2020

PSC Prepares to Launch COVID-19 Clinical Trial – You Can Help

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Stem Cell Therapy

Our human stem cell company, Personalized Stem Cells, Inc. (PSC), recently announced that they filed a request with the FDA for expedited review of an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for the treatment of COVID-19 patients with stem cells. PSC was asked by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to apply for expedited review through a new FDA program called the Coronavirus Therapeutic Accelerator Program (CTAP). CTAP was launched to help expedite the approval process of clinical trials for promising COVID-19 therapies.

Stem Cells for COVID-19

Recent studies evaluating the effects of stem cell therapy in COVID-19 patients have come out of China and Israel showing strikingly positive results. Stem cells have anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to reduce scar tissue formation. Stem cell therapy has the potential to reduce the serious lung complications that occur as a result of infection with COVID-19. The goal of treatment is to reduce time spent in the ICU, reduce ventilator needs, and increase chances of survival for seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

PSC has scaled up production of stem cells in their FDA-inspected facilities to be ready to provide stem cell treatments upon FDA approval. If approved, the initial COVID-19 clinical trial, termed “CoronaStem 1,” will provide treatment for twenty hospitalized COVID-19 patients with serious complications. The first trial will be conducted in a limited number of local San Diego hospitals. PSC anticipates additional approvals and potential compassionate use in the future to allow for many more patients to be treated.

How can you help?

As a small business, PSC is utilizing their own resources to ramp up stem cell production. However, supplies and laboratory technicians are necessary to further increase production of stem cells. PSC plans to provide stem cell treatments to COVID-19 patients at no cost to the patient which requires additional money to pay the doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who will be performing the clinical trial. Thus, PSC is reaching out to the public for donations to help in this fight against COVID-19. Your tax-deductible donation will allow PSC to provide stem cell treatments for as many COVID-19 patients as possible. All donations will go towards increasing stem cell production and paying doctors, nurses, technicians, and all those involved in performing the medical procedures for the clinical trial.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all, many of us are looking for ways in which we can help. PSC has partnered with the San Diego Foundation, a 501c3 organization, to collect tax-deductible donations to further PSC’s efforts. Learn more about how your donation can help PSC fight COVID-19.

You can make a difference! Click here to donate today.

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Apr 17, 2020

COVID-19 in Animals: What We Know So Far

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

As we all follow along with the updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember that this is an ever-changing situation. As experts continue to learn about this novel coronavirus, we must take special caution so as to not spread misinformation. In light of recent reports that a few animals have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes coronavirus disease or COVID-19), we think it is important to address the rising concerns of the general animal owning population and compile important and factual information regarding pets and COVID-19.

Reputable Sources

First, we must stress the importance of reputable sources. Organizations such as the CDC and AVMA are trusted sources that are providing up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. You can find information from the CDC regarding COVID-19 and animals here and information from the AVMA here. It is important to note that both sites make the following statement: There is no evidence to suggest that pets can spread COVID-19 to people or other pets.

So, what do we know so far regarding COVID-19 and animals? According to the AVMA and the CDC, there is a small number of pets who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 outside of the U.S.

Confirmed Cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Pets Outside of U.S.

The first case of an animal testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 was a dog in Hong Kong. The dog’s owner was diagnosed with COVID-19 and had close contact with the dog. A second dog in the house tested negative and the positive 17-year-old dog with ongoing health issues, who died shortly after being released from quarantine, never showed signs of illness. The second reported case was also in Hong Kong. Like the first case, this dog lives with an owner who has COVID-19. A second dog in the house continues to test negative for SARS-CoV-2 and the infected dog has had no symptoms.

The third reported case was a cat in Belgium. Like the two dogs, this cat also lives with an owner who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The cat was showing respiratory and digestive symptoms and both vomit and fecal matter tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. That being said, there are many unknowns surrounding this particular case. According to the AVMA, “Because other etiologic causes for the cat’s illness appear to have not been excluded and little is known about the samples in which viral material was detected, a clear link between the presence of viral material and clinical signs consistent with coronavirus infection cannot be established. The condition of the cat reportedly improved 9 days after onset of clinical signs.”

A second cat, located in Hong Kong, also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Like the previous pets, this cat also lives with an owner who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The cat is in quarantine and is showing no symptoms of the disease.

Tiger Tests Positive for SARS-CoV-2 in New York

Perhaps most important to us in the U.S., is the recent news that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The tiger was tested after several big cats developed a dry cough. It is believed that the tiger contracted the virus from an animal caretaker that was asymptomatic but actively shedding the virus. According to the zoo spokesperson, the affected cats have experienced a decrease in appetite but are otherwise doing well and are expected to make a full recovery. At this time, there are no other reports of sick animals at the Bronx Zoo.

What does this mean for pet owners?

It is important to note that only 2 of the 5 animals listed above that tested positive for the virus after exposure from a human caregiver/owner with COVID-19 showed any symptoms of respiratory disease and none appear to be significant as it is in people. However, if you or a family member have tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC and AVMA recommend restricting contact with pets just like you would with other people. When possible, have a healthy family member care for your pets. If you must care for your animals while sick, the CDC recommends washing your hands before and after interacting with them. Avoid contact such as petting, snuggling, being kissed/licked, and sharing food.

We feel it is important to once again note that both the CDC and AVMA have reported that there is no evidence to suggest that pets can spread COVID-19 to people. This continues to be a rapidly developing situation, so we encourage you to check the CDC and AVMA websites frequently for updates.

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Apr 10, 2020

Zoo Animal Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

As you may know, VetStem has worked with several wild animal organizations over the years.  One example is Francis, a Sun Bear at the San Diego Zoo who received VetStem Cell Therapy.  Like dogs, cats, and horses, exotic animals are near and dear to us.  We previously posted a blog about caring for your dogs and cats during the COVID-19 pandemic but what about the zoo animals?

Due to the current stipulations in place regarding social distancing, zoos and aquariums across the United States have closed to the public.  While non-essential employees may be working from home, the animals still need care.  The animal care staff continues to provide routine care to the best of their ability.  Non-emergency procedures have been postponed, such as preventative care and routine vaccinations, in cases where the procedures require more than one person to work closely together.  But otherwise, the care continues.

Due to interruptions in supply chains, some food sources might become scarce or temporarily unavailable.  While this might sound scary, zoos and aquariums have safeguards in place to help prevent this from becoming a problem.  For instance, the platypuses, which are currently on display at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, are very picky eaters and prefer live crayfish.  Zookeepers are working with the animals to introduce various options into their diets, should live crayfish become unavailable.

While we continue to live in unprecedented and uncertain times, rest assured knowing the animals we love so much are being well cared for.  Zoos have said the animal caretakers are providing extra enrichment opportunities and exercises to help make up for the lack of interaction from visitors.  In fact, several zoos and aquariums have set up live broadcasts and videos showing various animals.  In one exceptionally cute video from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL, the resident penguins take a trip to meet the beluga whales.  We encourage you to check your local zoo’s website or Facebook page for fun and interactive videos.  Or you can view some of the larger zoos’ videos such as the San Diego Zoo’s Live Cams or the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Webcams.

Francis
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