Categories: Veterinarians

President of British Veterinary Association advises incorrectly a second time on coronavirus

The President of the British Veterinary Association, Daniella Dos Santos, initially advised that domestic cats should be kept indoors in order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. She said that people who are asymptomatic with the disease but carrying it may pass it on to their cat’s fur if they pet them.

Advice to isolate cats is unworkable

That advice was scorned by the public so she issued fresh advice which is that in households where a person or persons are infected with the virus they should keep their cats indoors. I get the advice. It makes sense. However, it has become clear that many more people have been infected by the virus than has been recorded through testing or through diagnosis of symptoms. It is suggested that up to 40% of people have had the virus and cured themselves without showing any signs of it or had mild signs.

This information comes from various sources including testing in Iceland where there is a very small population of about 350,000 and where about 20,000 tests have been completed. The results clearly indicated that many people who were asymptomatic had been infected. Therefore, how can people follow Dos Santos’s advice?

If people don’t know if they are infected how will they know whether they should keep their cat indoors or not? It is not good enough to simply self-diagnose and say that because I have a dry cough I have the disease. Obviously if you have a dry cough and a fever then it is highly likely that you are suffering from Covid-19 and you need to self-isolate together with your cat.

But the level of infection in the general population is very uncertain. I am convinced that the medical experts aren’t sure what mild symptoms people had who self-cured. We will only know the percentage of the population who have had the disease without realising it after the country has introduced mass antibody testing. This test is a long way off. Also, the test to find out whether you are actually suffering with the disease at present is also some way off.

Therefore, I have to conclude that the advice provided by the BVA is inadequate and rather misleading to be honest. It’ll create more worry as the earlier advice did. I can’t criticise Daniella Dos Santos, because this is a learning process. It is impossible in fact criticise the government because it the first time that the governments of the world have dealt with such an awful situation. We are all learning as we go along.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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