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COVID-19 and pigs: experts answer your questions on the novel coronavirus

The ISN speaks to experts at the Friedrich-Löffler-Institut (FLI), who answer questions from pet owners and livestock producers.

13 March 2020, at 10:57am

COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) has been hitting headlines for months, with cases increasing globally by the day. This has raised concerns in the farming industry as producers wonder whether the virus may infect their animals.

The Friedrich-Löffler-Institut (FLI) has provided a comprehensive Q&A session, covering some of the biggest concerns of pet owners and producers, and what they have to consider in the short-term. The most important point is that it is currently assumed that farm animals cannot become infected and are not considered to be carriers of the virus.

ISN says that pig farmers are well advised to check their emergency plans now. If necessary, farm managers should organise alternative stockpersons in case the primary caregivers are required to self-isolate.

Can pigs become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and spread it?

According to the FLI, there is currently no evidence that farm animals can contract the SARS-CoV-2 corona virus or that pigs can transmit and spread it.

The FLI is currently testing the susceptibility of animals to SARS-CoV-2 in a series of tests and expects the first results at the end of April. Only then can the possible danger to humans and animals be assessed.

It is important to observe the basic principles of hygiene when dealing with animals every day and, for example, to wash your hands thoroughly after contact with animals.

Is SARS-CoV-2 associated with epizootic virus diarrhoea in pigs?

The FLI gives a clear all-clear on this question. Epizootic viral diarrhoea (PED) is a disease in pigs caused by coronaviruses. However, the two pathogens should be clearly distinguished from one another. SARS-CoV-2 therefore cannot trigger epizootic virus diarrhoea in pigs.

The full interview can be found at schweine.net.