There is no report of COVID-19 presence in animals in Nigeria yet. Nonetheless, the Veterinary Council of Nigeria is currently carrying out nationwide decontamination of livestock/ live birds markets, abattoirs and other vulnerable veterinary outfits across the nation. The purpose of this is to support the efforts of the government in eradicating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), until more is known about this virus, people with COVID- 19 should avoid unguarded contact with pets and other animals. Pet and live-stock owners should stay healthy and follow all NCDC guidelines around their animals,” she said.
She advised people dealing with pets and other animals to also monitor the health of the animals to see whether or not they have COVID- 19, by watching out for the same symptoms as in humans.
Responding to the question of what signs to look out for in animals, Prof Adetunji stated that animals that have COVID-19 infection are likely to present similar symptoms to those presented by humans. She explained that “the first cat case from Belgium showed clinical signs suggestive of COVID- 19, such as vomiting, diarrhoea and respiratory distress one week after the owner tested positive for the virus.
The first tiger case also developed dry cough and loss of appetite before testing positive for the virus.
Though there is no conclusive evidence in support of animal-to-human transmission, it is better to stay on the safe side. Therefore, people handling animals, such as cattle rearers and butchers, among others, should go the extra mile in taking precautionary measures.
Prof Adetunji appealed to the government to enlist the services of veterinary doctors and vet researchers in educating the public on the nature and prevention of the infection. This is because vet doctors have access to large numbers of livestock and people especially in rural areas. In addition, vet doctors have earned the trust and audience of the vast majority of Nigerians who practice pastoral farming. Importantly, they have been working actively to decontaminate kraals and other places.
She concluded that if we eradicate COVID-19 from humans but the virus still resides in our animals, we cannot say for sure that we have experienced total victory.
About a month ago, the University of Ibadan set up a comprehensive committee to handle its response to COVID-19. Individuals experiencing symptoms are advised to call:
UI Health Services:
Oyo State COVID-19 EOC hotlines:
© Information, Education & Communication Sub-Committee of the UI COVID-19 Response Committee