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SARS-CoV-2: Warnings and Testing

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) statement as of April 12, 2020:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not received any reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, and we have no information that suggests that pets might be a source of infection for people with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”

Warnings

Around the world, clinical trials are being conducted on various drugs to treat patients sickened with COVID-19 and some have been permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Emergency Use Authorization. As the news spreads, you may find some of these prescription medications in your household.

Do not self-medicate with any of these prescription medications to treat what you suspect may be symptoms of COVID-19. You must work with a medical doctor and obtain a prescription from that doctor.

We at Hemopet apologize for being blunt here, but it is necessary. Here’s why…

In March, a woman had heard that chloroquine – an antimalarial/antiparasitic drug that is also prescribed to patients suffering from lupus and rheumatoid arthritis – was showing promising results in combatting COVID-19 disease.

She was afraid of developing the disease, even though she was not diagnosed with an active infection of SARS-CoV-2. In any event, she remembered she had some chloroquine to treat her koi fish for parasites and decided to try it.

Within 20 minutes of ingestion, she and her husband became violently ill. She started to vomit and her husband developed respiratory problems.

Sadly, her husband died shortly after arriving at the hospital. She was hospitalized.

Another prescription medication, ivermectin is a popular antiparasitic used to prevent heartworms in companion dogs and cats. Most of know this as Heartgard®. Note that some people have used the livestock version of ivermectin, which is much too strong for pets and can kill them. Please do not do that as making a correct dilution can be tricky.

Again, do not self-medicate with your companion pet’s ivermectin to combat possible symptoms of COVID-19.

Also, do not give ivermectin to your companion pet if you think your dog or cat may have contracted SARS-CoV-2. Please note the AVMA’s statement above. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) stated in an April 6, 2020 update:

“Others have questioned whether WSAVA will recommend ivermectin for the treatment or prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection of companion animals based on another pre-print, in vitro manuscript that was just made available. At this time, there is not enough information to make recommendations of how to use this information in clinical practice. To date, illness in dogs or cats potentially related to SARS-CoV-2 from natural infection has been non-existent or apparently self-limited.”

Ivermectin is also available via prescription for people suffering from head lice, rosacea and some intestinal worms. If you have these lying around from prior prescriptions, do not self medicate for symptoms of COVID-19 with them. Please!

The FDA strongly warns:

“While there are approved uses for ivermectin in people and animals, it is not approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. You should not take any medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19 unless it has been prescribed to you by your health care provider and acquired from a legitimate source.”

Please remember, too, that the currently available coronavirus vaccines for cats and dogs will not cross-protect against SARS-CoV-2.

Testing, Testing, Testing

Since we are all inundated with the news about testing and types of testing, we thought we would step back and talk about the various types of tests available to find out if a person is or was infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that can cause the disease COVID-19.

Note: we emphasized the present and the past tenses of “to be”, i.e. “is” or “was”. This is very important.

Most of us have heard about the swab tests for the actual viral protein that gently brushes one’s nose or throat. Samples from the rectum or feces can also be used. These tests detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus by identifying the RNA of the virus. In the medical world, it is often referred to as rRT-PCR test (reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test).

If the result is positive, the patient presumptively has an active infection of SARS-CoV-2, but that does not mean it will develop into COVID-19 disease. Also, remember that testing is currently recommended for people who are ill with upper respiratory and other relevant signs, those with high risk clinical conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or other immune suppressive disorders, and those in occupations of moderate or high exposure risk such as health care workers, sanitation, food and drug suppliers providers. If it is negative, the person more than likely does not have an active infection. However, a negative result one day does not mean someone could not be infected a few days later.

Rutgers University has now released a test that also detects the RNA of the virus in saliva. Rutgers’ RUCDR Infinite Biologics developed the test in partnership with Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostic Labs (ADL).

Now, let’s turn to antibody testing.

There are five antibodies:

  • Immunoglobulin A (IgA)
  • IgD
  • IgE
  • IgG
  • IgM

On this Blog, we often discuss serological (blood) titers for parvovirus, distemper virus, adenovirus (hepatitis) and rabies virus in dogs. Antibody tests are serum titer tests. Often times, pet companion parents will request a titer test to make sure the pet is still protected from a virus after prior vaccine inoculation.

These antibody titer tests for companion pets measure the IgG levels against a particular virus or bacterium (like leptospirosis).

Why IgG? IgG provides the majority of long term circulating antibody-based immunity against invading organisms.

In humans, we measure the IgG antibody for recovery from viral infections as well. Yes; we are looking at the same type of antibody.

Initially, when the body’s immune system mounts a defense against an antigen like a virus, the first antibody activated is IgM. IgM is the first line of defense. IgM antibody indicates an active or very recent infection.

Shortly thereafter, IgG production kicks in to fight the battle. Typically, it takes about four weeks after the initial response for the IgG antibody response to reach a significant level. When IgG antibodies are measurable, the indication is that the body has either recovered from a viral infection or at least has mounted immunity against that viral strain for a certain amount of time.

Back to IgM. IgM can also be measured with antibody testing, but IgM antibodies also take time to develop, although more quickly than IgG responses (7-9 days). So, if someone is tested for an IgM antibody response to a virus, a negative result does not mean one is not infected with a virus. It simply means the body has not developed the first line of response yet to a virus.

Therefore, IgG antibody testing is preferred over IgM testing to detect recovery from an infection or that a vaccine worked to protect an individual against a virus.

Many of our readers are familiar with NutriScan Food Sensitivity and Intolerance Test for Dogs, Cats and Horses. This is a food test that measure the production of the IgA and IgM antibodies in saliva. Again, IgM is the first line of defense against antigens. Antibodies to IgA measure the immune response to certain foods in secretions like saliva that have occurred over the last 2 years.

Some researchers are investigating or developing IgA testing for COVID-19 disease as well.

You will probably hear a lot about false-positive and false-negative antibody test results for COVID-19 disease. Here’s a tangential explanation…

Many people wondered why we did not report on the 17 year-old Pomeranian that had a positive antibody test for SARS-CoV-2. First of all, results of a virus neutralizing antibody test on a sample collected on March 3 were negative, but further serological testing on that same blood sample yielded positive results, suggesting that the Pomeranian had developed an immune response to the virus. Plus, the rRT-PCR testing conducted only showed “weak positive”. The simplest way to explain it is that antibody testing needs a large sample population within the same species for accuracy. This old dog had other disease issues associated with aging and passed away from natural cause shortly after leaving quarantine and isolation.

Remember, two commercial laboratories in the United States reported they had tested (rRT-PCR) thousands of specimens from dogs and cats for SARS-CoV-2 and had obtained no positive results. These specimens have come from the United States, South Korea, Canada, and Europe, including regions concurrently experiencing human COVID-19 cases.

Again, no evidence exists at this time that domestic pets might be a source of infection for people with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease.

When it comes to antibody testing in humans for SARS-CoV-2, please be sure that you are using testing that has been approved by the FDA. There are currently no antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2 in domestic pets.

Blogs

Please watch for follow up Blogs from Hemopet about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19:

Vaccines

Promising new vaccine approaches for humans (CSU and the coronavirus attached to genetically modified Lactobacillus; Moderna coronavirus attached to mRNA);

Drugs

Remdesavir, 5 trials underway. Other international trials with Favipiravir and other candidate drugs

Inteferon

Interferon Type 1 trial shows promise

Supplements

High dose Vitamiins C and D, echinacea, elderberry, pomegranates, coconut oil, cinnamon bark, lutein from tomato paste and marigolds, quercetin, zinc, colloidal silver.;

Contaminants

Glyphosate (Roundup®) contamination of foods and crops – its toxicity aggravates immune dysfunction; we should eat only organic foods whenever possible. Other pesticides and herbicides can have similar adverse effects.

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