Updated at 11 a.m. on March 26, 2020
Mobile and house call practitioners are incredibly diverse in what services they deliver, how they deliver them, and the resources they have available to do so.
Entering a home or interfacing with a COVID-19 quarantined individual should occur only if consistent with guidance from the CDC, state, and local health officials. Veterinary practitioners should be very familiar with CDC’s Interim Guidance for Public Health Professionals Managing People With COVID-19 in Home Care and Isolation Who Have Pets or Other Animals and have access to appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before making such a decision.
The One Health aspects of SARS-CoV-2 virus draw focus to the balance of animal health with human health that veterinarians routinely consider.
The AVMA provides the following considerations for veterinarians with house call or mobile practices (small animal and large animal) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although little is known about SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 in humans) in animals, pets of COVID-19 patients are unlikely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to humans. The following recommendations are based on proven techniques applied in many different disease outbreaks, consistent with the following Hierarchy of Controls:
- Engineering controls
- Administrative controls
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The optimal way to prevent disease transmission is to use a combination of interventions from across the hierarchy of controls, not PPE alone.
Veterinarians should consider asking screening questions when an appointment is scheduled and again on the day of the scheduled visit. Questions should include inquiring about anyone who has fever, cough, shortness of breath, contact with a positive COVID-19 person, and if anyone in the home is under quarantine. Clients and/or households that answer “yes” to any of the screening questions may be at increased risk for COVID-19 and the following precautions should be considered:
- Consider rescheduling elective veterinary procedures for those clients who answer “yes” to any of the screening questions.
- Consider use of telemedicine when a veterinarian-client-patient relationship already exists. AVMA has resources to support your use of telemedicine at avma.org/Telemedicine.
- If seeing an animal during the quarantine period of a known COVID-19 patient is indicated, veterinarians should avoid entering the residence, if possible.
- Be familiar with CDC’s Interim Guidance for Public Health Professionals Managing People With COVID-19 in Home Care and Isolation Who Have Pets or Other Animals.
- If veterinary procedures for animals of known COVID-19 persons cannot wait, veterinary personnel should consider providing care for the animal(s) outside of the home, when feasible. This may be on property in a mobile unit or a different building from the owner, such as a barn, or through transport of the animal to a veterinary hospital. If transporting off-site, animals should be contained in a species appropriate crate or trailer.
- When providing care outside of the home is not feasible, interfacing with a COVID-19 negative person in the home should be done. If this is not possible, the COVID-19 quarantined individual should wear a surgical mask (or an N95 mask if available) and a distance of at least 6 feet should be maintained between the COVID-19 quarantined individual and the veterinarian/staff.
- The minimum number of veterinary staff needed for the task should enter the home of the COVID-19 quarantined individual.
- Access to handwashing (soap & water, alcohol, etc.) and disinfection materials should be available.
- When the species and health of the animal allows, it would be prudent to bathe the animal that has been removed from a COVID-19 positive home at the first reasonable opportunity and clean and disinfect the carrier or trailer before reuse.