After the Webinar: COVID-19 – What it Means for Animals and Animal Care/Control Professionals. Q&A with Dr. Jay Tischendorf

Webinar presenter  Dr. Jay Tischendorf answered a number of your questions after his presentation, COVID-19 and What it means for Animals and Animal Care Professionals.  Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: What can shelters be doing to prepare for a future zoonotic disease where we could see the transmission between people and companion animals. How do we develop that preparedness plan? And what resource should we be looking at? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: Of course, training like this and just to can try and enhance the awareness and appreciation of what the dangers are. I always encourage when I talk for instance with a routine Veterinary Clinic is you know, tell those staff members to come in some morning to the front door and not the back door and pretend they’re a bacteria or a virus and think of all the places they might hide that never get cleaned or disinfected and so that’s often a good starting point. But as I said redoubling our efforts to make cleaning and disinfection, honoring it has the science that it truly is not just some incidental aspect of our lives, but it really is a science and we need to embrace that and do it diligently and meticulously not just every week with a good thorough cleaning but basically beyond that every day. And understand all of these different areas where these pathogens might survive having systems in place making sure you’ve got ample supplies of the basic and even in some cases more advanced PPE equipment that you’ve got enough on hand to get you through a little crisis. If not, I should say not if but when it will happen, whether it’s parvovirus or a zoonotic issue training training training awareness awareness awareness and you know, reminding everybody the importance in enforcing hand-washing disinfection of ourselves as well as our equipment, but there’s no magic recipe to it. It’s going to take hard work. It’s going to take commitment in some cases some extra expenditure of money and certainly time and energy but I do believe we can all do a better job many of us are already doing a fantastic job out there. But be critical, you know, take a hard look at your protocols and your facility and determine where you might make some changes and maybe work through some scenarios and I’m happy to help with you in that area, but you know some live-action drills where we pretend, okay, we’ve got an animal that came in coughing and it turns out, we discovered has influenza H3N2 or some new influenza that we haven’t seen before. You know, what do we do? How do we try to cordon off things? And so there are some exercises that you might want to work through. I hope that helps fantastic.



Audience Question: What precautions should an animal control officer take when picking up pets from known infected people? Should the animal be quarantined or decontaminated? And in theory, could that animal be a fomite that transfers the coronavirus to us ACOs? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: Well, it absolutely could and therein is some of the concern with the CDC and their recommendations with you know with sick people not handling their animals. I guess one question that would come to mind as you’d want to know. Why am I picking up this animal from an infected person what’s going on? Do they not have another family member to be able to take care of the animal while the primary caregiver owner is battling the COVID-19? But yeah, so, you know some questions you want to answer there. But again remember the photos I showed of the individuals and their personal protective equipment. I don’t think you can be too careful with this. I don’t want to again create panic and alarm, but just good sensible precautions. And getting that animal bathed or certainly wipe down with the good effective disinfectant as quickly and thoroughly as possible would go a long way because very likely it could be a fomite of sorts maybe carrying virus particles on its fur or pads and able to transmit those wherever it goes. So yeah a little bit of caution there I think is really valuable and it’s a great question. I like the way you’re thinking with that. So yeah, I’m a big fan of Tyvek hood and Tyvek suits, face mask, goggles or a face shield, gloves and booties and taping off the cuffs and the wrist.



Audience Question: How to clean those animals, you mentioned wiping them down because you get a little bit more specific? What should we be doing? What precautions should be taken to clean that animal? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: Well, let me just mention two while I think about it, you know, it’s some of us are involved with maybe collecting carcasses and things like that and snake tongs or some kind of gripper where you don’t actually have to touch the animal I think make a lot of sense again protective equipment to protect yourself. And keep in mind if an animal has died the fleas and ticks and other parasites that might be on that animal may be looking for a new host desperately and you don’t want to be that thing that host new host to them. So really important to protect yourself with protective equipment and using those tongs or some kind of device that keeps you at arm’s length getting that animal into a plastic bag and getting it tied off or sealed without real direct contact could be real important. I mentioned I’m a big fan of wet ones. I haven’t necessarily tested those on animals, but I have no reason to think they’re not safe. I wouldn’t want to wipe down their actual eyes with that. But there are some pet-friendly wipes that are out there that are disinfecting, peroxides tend to be very safe they degrade into oxygen and water. And so again, probably wouldn’t want to spray it on animals’ eyes, but there are peroxide wipes you can buy there are some companies again that makes some products. At least, in this case, be a little careful the chlorhexidine wipes. They’re great for you know, 99.9% of things, but in this case, with the coronavirus, there is some evidence that they don’t quite have what it takes to deactivate this COVID-19, so that would be one type of chemical or compound I would steer away from but you can do some research. There are some differences. I don’t necessarily want to name brands, but there are some wipes out there it again. I would just ideally bathe the animal with a good decreasing shampoo that goes a long way to removing surface organic debris that would include virus particles and bacterial spores things like that. And in the absence of that, a good thorough wiping with don’t be bashful, you know, you’re not just going to use one little wipe. Again, remember Darryll Hebert, If you can’t afford to do it right, you can’t afford to do it. So you may use multiple wipes to get that animal from nose to toes, head to tail really well wiped down and you know, at least have a sense that you hopefully taken out of play removed any real obvious particles virus particles or bacteria that might be on that animal. I do think it’s a good policy.



Audience Question: Has there been any indication of when COVID-19 will peak, what is your best guess? Is that a month? Is it 3 months or is it longer? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: Well great question and my general recommendation is hope for the best but plan for the worst. And then I don’t say that lightly or facetiously. I really think that that’s the approach to take with these things because again, there’s so little we know and so much we don’t. So it’s, you know hard to say it could play out over months. There are some suspicions with these coronaviruses that they are a little bit heat sensitive they don’t do well in heat and so some hope in some of the medical circles that with the advent of spring weather and ideally summer-like weather that that may tend to help kind of stop this in its tracks. But again, I’m not making any assumptions other than the assumption that things from the near term at least you’re going to get worse before they get better and keep in mind, you know today. There’s probably X number of folks, we know there’s X number of people have tested positive. Question is how many others are out there incubating the disease as we speak that haven’t shown up with clinical signs or symptoms. And so, you know, this is going to continue to escalate in as we get into Community spread unless this virus is deactivated. By the way, it is deactivated by ultraviolet light too so some light potentially could potentially do that and I would think and then certainly UV light devices that are specifically designed for disinfection purposes would have some benefit as well. But, it remains to be seen. I wish I could tell you if I knew that I’d probably be a billionaire.



Audience Question: Could it be advisable to cancel a large volume vaccination clinic? They are looking at having over 300 pets and animals receiving vaccinations in the near future here. 

Dr. J Tischendorf: That’s a great great question. I think you know from my perspective. The bigger concern would not be so much that aggregation of animals, but the aggregation of people with all those animals and coming together because all it takes is one person that comes down with COVID9 to kind of ruin everybody’s day. And then you’re going back after the fact trying to track everybody down to give them notice that hey, you know, we had a positive case. You need to, you know, be aware and watch so, you know. There is that advice of just sort of being sensitive about large group assemblages of people and whether they’re with their pets or just themselves? I think that might something really worth thinking about obviously there’s a lot of benefit to getting animals vaccinated to prevent any number of different deadly diseases and dangerous diseases, but the timing of this may not be optimal you well might want to cancel that just because of the human factor getting so many people in close quarters together, right?



Audience Question: And certainly, some of this may be guided by your local jurisdictions as well. I know here in Washington, certainly just had the announcement go out from our governor’s office that there are there should not be people and large gatherings of 250 people or more. I think New York has a slightly different guidance, but again along those same lines, so you may need to refer to your local government’s guidance on some of those things as well as we go through this time.

Dr. J Tischendorf: Consider also your disinfection protocols and procedures for a gathering like that even under normal what we would call normal conditions, you know, we evaluate your disinfection and cleaning protocols and see if there’s some things we could tweak to make it even more hygienic and save for all of the animals and people as well. So, just you know some food for thought there to self-analyze and be critical of what you’ve been doing and see you know, how can we do this better?



Audience Question: Does Rescue cleaner kill COVID-19 and if so, what’s the contact time? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: That is great question, Rescue is the brand name for an activated hydrogen peroxide product. Another same company that makes a sister product called Excel, one is for animal health use and one is for human health is my recollection. It’s virtually the same product just under different names. But yes, it should be effective against COVID-19 and the other coronaviruses. Contact time, I would suggest probably you know, to be ultra-safe and I would double-check because I’m sure the company has some guidance, but I would you know it again just flying by the seat of my pants here. I would say to be safe five minutes would be a very good contact time. It may well be less than that, but I think it five minutes. You’re probably going all out and maximizing the potential to knock out any number of different microbes as well. But double-check on that. The company should have its own hotline or website that you’d have that data. But yeah, the hydrogen peroxide products whether it’s the Rescue, Excel, or Clorox brand that I mentioned, the bio stain odor and cleaner remover those they’re all it’s a really good compound for disinfection, and again, fairly non-toxic because it degrades into water and oxygen which can be advantageous in many settings. Just beware some of these products can disrupt surfaces so you always Want to test these products whatever you’re using on the surfaces that you’re you plan to be using it on because these potentially can destroy some surfaces, which would also ruin your day.



Audience Question: Is straight alcohol an accepted disinfectant on which she says straight alcohol. I’m assuming she’s talking about the 60, 70, 90 percent rubbing alcohol is what we would typically call it. 

Dr. J Tischendorf: The alcohol is a bit confusing because there’s so many different names and formulas for it. But the guidance in the slide I showed in this presentation was ethanol, and I have to go back and look at the concentration by thinking it was 57 to 67 percent somewhere in that realm ethanol. And so that could be found in your hand sanitizer type product and perhaps other as well, but that that has shown to be effective against the COVID-19.



Audience Question: Are natural cleaners, I’m putting quotes around natural cleaners are those sufficient for killing the Coronavirus? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: I’d have to look at the individual product. But in general, I would be skeptical and I try to support natural products as much as the next person but be careful guys and just as a side note, you know as a society. We need to stop getting our facts from places like, you know, Fox News and CNN. Then are you can you take your pick and pick your poison? We need to become much more scientific and understand, you know, the information and in the sources and not to point, you know, throw those guys under the bus. But a good credible source is the CDC or the Companion Animal Parasite Council or the American Heartworm Society or the ABMA or the AMA American Medical Association. When politics confuses things which had so often does in my opinion, there’s going to be some tainting of the truth in either direction. So again of you know reading Journal articles like I’ve shared some work it today, you know, that’s where the rubber meets the road with factual information, scientifically reviewed and refereed by other outside experts and peer-reviewed. The news media doesn’t necessarily peer review its stories. So you have to be a little suspect of that information. The natural products again, if they don’t have science behind them that they can specifically share I would be skeptical because you’re putting lives at stake and health and well-being of animals and perhaps yourself and your team members at stake. So as much as we’d like to you know, the non-toxic natural products sort of thing. They’re not always necessarily the best answer and quite honestly many of these medical products actually do derive ultimately from natural sources in one capacity or another. So sometimes you can make the case. Well, you know, this actually was originally a natural-type product. But anyway, be careful with those and you know demand to see the data and assure yourself that actually it is there and when I say data again, I’d like to see peer-reviewed scientific studies in multiple, you know, multiple studies. Not just one.



Audience Question: Do you think that the countries that are reporting only one cases is somewhat misleading would it be the same situations but we have here in the United States that all it really means is that they haven’t tested enough to know actually how many cases they really do have. 

Dr. J Tischendorf: That would be my sense. Now, it’s fully possible. It’s unlikely but it’s possible that maybe they’ve done a bunch of tests and they literally only do have one positive cases. But you remember the discussion we had about testing and the shortcomings of that type of data. You can have false positives and false negatives. You can have people that are sick that just never get tested. And in fact, clear the infection themselves without ever maybe even going to the doctor. So yeah, I would be a little skeptical if somebody is telling me and this environment today globally where we know this pathogen is circulating, but they’ve only got one case. That, to me, seems a little unlikely as that one expert said on TV talking about us here in the states. If you’re looking at a map and it shows a state with no infections what you’re really seeing is a state that just has not done any testing or not done enough testing to find those positive cases. And again, you know tests are not in infinite supply and so medical professionals, you’re having to use those judiciously and some cases and that also presents some challenges.



Audience Question: On coronavirus and farm animals, is there any additional guidelines or additional advice that you have? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: Not really except again a little bit of caution I think is merited. I am not aware in my research of coronaviruses in you know so-called food or farm animals or horses for that matter, but not to say it couldn’t happen. They are mammals and we do know coronaviruses can infect mammals and birds. I mean look at the Pangolin right of all things, a spiny anteater type creature was carrying a coronavirus. So if that type of creature can do it or a cat or a dog can carry its versions and people carry our version of coronavirus. It makes sense in some of these other animals do. The interesting thing, there is some data that for this particular coronavirus the COVID-19 primates, swine, cats and ferrets all potentially carry the Binding site for that virus. And again, it has an affinity for the respiratory tract, primarily. So all of those animals potentially carry the proper binding site, but again other than primates and pangolins, and bats, we’ve not seen any to my knowledge other species involved. So, you know, there’s a lot of variables that play with these microbes and different environments and different situations. So again, we’re going to stay tuned but for the time being, fortunately, we’re not having to worry about this in any of those animals whether you know, it’s cattle, cats, dogs, horses so far. But again, you know, the guidance is to stay away from animals if you’re sick, just you know, why take a chance. You don’t want to be ground zero for causing that first infection in a pot-bellied pig that then goes haywire and mutates and starts affecting everybody else. So, just you know again a little bit of caution, we love our pets but if we’re sick particularly with this coronavirus, it’s good policy to just let someone else take care of your pet for those few days while you’re getting over this you.



Audience Question: How do your guidelines again apply to orphaned and injured wildlife? And should we be worried about coronavirus in the wildlife that we’re working with? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: It makes me also think that you know again going back to the previous question guys, whether we’re talking coronavirus COVID-19 or rabies or roundworm, you know, it doesn’t matter. Any given day, there are diseases out there. And so, you know in the news today is Coronavirus, but all these others are always out there too. And so again just these basic techniques and awareness. Inhalation, ingestion, and penetration of our skin or mucous membranes, those are primarily the ways you’re going to get infected with any one or more of these pathogens. Doesn’t matter what it is how it’s transmitted. Those are the three key ways that most likely you would get infected the matter what it is. So protecting yourself at all times just assuming as I said that any given animal or group of animals. And so whether it’s farm animals that may not be carrying COVID-19, but who knows they can carry other things like salmonella, E.coli. You know to protect ourselves and have that awareness. So again, it goes back to the basic hygiene, PPE, not putting yourself in situations that you don’t have to, where you’re exposing yourself to extra risk. And when you’ve had to put yourself in those situations, you know doing the proper aftercare of, you know, disrobing from your PPE properly washing, you know before you eat any of those things to not touching your face. So again, just my message is just basic simple sensible procedures every day every minute of every day. Whether it’s a COVID or rabies, will go a long way towards protecting us in our teams. We don’t necessarily have to go to extreme measures, but just be consistent, be thorough, be aware and be diligent and meticulous in how we do these things. Maintain your good medical care and vaccines all of that. We largely will protect ourselves from the bulk of these diseases



Audience Question: Has COVID-19 already mutated to a second strain. I’ve heard about a second strain that affects the gastro system. What’s your take on that Jay? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: Yeah, I have not heard specifically of a mutation. I did share that article about the adolescent that the virus was cultured from the stool sample. My sense is that that’s the same virus just showing up in a different place than we might have expected. I have not heard but it would not surprise me having said that that we do see some mutation with this potentially. It’s something to watch for I do know the genome has been sequenced by experts and that’s you know, how they’re going to help initially try to build some vaccines to protect against it with that information in hand. And I’m sure everybody you know, everybody being the experts, they are watching this to see if there are mutations, but I personally professionally not aware that that’s happened yet. Wouldn’t surprise me, but stay tuned good question.



Audience Question: You had on one of your slides that 59 outside 56 to 59-year-olds in there was a that was a range that you were sharing that was increased susceptibility, right? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: That seemed to be that from the research I was able to do that tended to be the population that seem to be most hard most commonly infected with the virus again. If we look at fatalities that was yet another older age group. Which makes some sense just because of increased infirmity as we get old and more likely the older you get that you’re going to have some other condition affecting you simultaneously – diabetes, asthma emphysema, heart disease, high blood pressure, whatever.  Yeah, my understanding is that I’m right in that 55 to 59 age group, so and I consider myself relatively healthy, but you know, it’s certainly a something to be aware of. But again, doesn’t matter how old we are on any given day in our life whether we’re citizens or animal control people. There’s a whole bunch of diseases out there. We want to try to protect ourselves and it doesn’t take you know, necessarily heroics just good common sense and you know thought. Planning and thought and you know, again disinfecting wipes, sanitizer, hand-washing, avoiding crowds, not touching your face. Some basic things go a long way. That ounce of prevention , as they say, is worth a pound of cure.



Audience Question: What are your thoughts on the second test of that dog, where they’ve recovered virus from the nasal swabs through the throat swabs and they were negative, originally positive, after the dog had been quarantined away from a positive owner for about 14 days. What’s your take on that situation? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: We have my sense again is that was just maybe sort of an incidental odd situation and maybe just dumb luck for that dog. Again, it never to my knowledge to demonstrated any signs or symptoms of illness. It just seemed to be possibly carrying the virus and my understanding to it was just a weak positive, but initially in the test, but what we would call a dead-end host. And because of that and that’s the only case I’ve been aware of and anybody I’ve talked to has heard of. That’s why the CDC is very adamant at this point in saying that pets are not a risk or at risk so far, but again, you know things are fluid they can change but I do think we can be pretty comfortable that our dogs cats are not going to pick this up carry it and transmit it onward to other animals or people except perhaps on their fur as particles as that’s the one gentleman said basically a full might of sorts. So they’re carting it around. So I think that would probably be the more logical way. They can transmit it if at all.



Audience Question:  Do we need to be concerned about products being shipped over from China if the virus can live for several days on different kinds of flat surfaces? 

Dr. J Tischendorf: That’s a very good question. And I do want to just point out too, I was thinking about that last question. One possible scenario is, imagine this, let’s say I’ve got some, common cold or COVID-19 and I sneeze on my dog and now he’s covered in this virus. Well, he Grooms himself lick some of the virus and now it’s in his mouth and perhaps in his nasal cavities. And so, you know, he’s been exposed but whether or not that virus goes anywhere in him is another question. But if he happened to be tested, he would be carrying the virus and that may well be what happened with that dog in Hong Kong something as simple as that that occurs to me. That might be a scenario that explains how that all played out. So something to keep in mind. I think we’re trying to put a ban on incoming flights from overseas, but certainly products could potentially be contaminated and that is something to be aware of it’s a really astute question and observation and yeah again a little bit of caution and awareness is a valuable thing. So, I would be you know, a little careful about handling things and again don’t want to create alarm or panic just that awareness. That’s where just basic good hand washing, and hygiene, not touching our faces, washing our hands before we eat is going to go a long way towards protecting ourselves, our family members and team members

Christina (host): Absolutely love that advice that grandma gave us all those years ago: wash your hands,  wash your hands, wash your hands.

Dr. J Tischendorf: Don’t forget under your nails too.



Click Here to Watch a Recording of COVID-19 and What it means for Animals and Animal Care Professionals.  



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