The fight against COVID-19 and the race for more about it are at the center of the global stage. Educators, scientists, and clinicians at MSU College of Veterinary Medicine work hard to protect human and animal health in four key areas: public health, education, research, and animal health.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, veterinary or human health champions, Spartans and medical professionals have come together near or far. Whether it’s developing best practices to protect MSU’s health workers or sharing personal protective equipment with Lansing hospitals, members of the Spartan medical community agree.
The MSU Veterinary Medical Center donated both the ventilator and the continuous renal replacement therapy machine to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. Although this meant that they could no longer use these machines on their animal patients, the veterinary staff knew they could do something to save human life.
The university’s commitment to animal, human and public health is not only evident in the treatment room, but also in the laboratories of the MSU. University Veterinarian and Director of Campus Animal Resources Claire Hankenson advocated a decontamination process for personal protective equipment over vaporized hydrogen peroxide This allows Spartans to reuse nearly 15,000 important materials every day. Thanks to Hankenson, the MSU is the first public institution in the state to use the process for decontaminating vaporized hydrogen peroxide on this scale.
To further support Michigan human and animal health authorities, the MSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has been certified as a SARS-CoV-2 testing site (the virus that causes COVID-19) for animals. *
Practical, personal instruction and clinical experience are critical to future veterinarians. Veterinary schools across the country have set up virtual labs to replace those experiences while balancing the role of veterinary students in teaching hospitals.
Following the introduction of a new curriculum, MSU’s CVM is maximizing digital space by leveraging the technological know-how of faculties and staff, as well as colleagues in higher education and veterinary medicine. By the end of Spring Semester 2020, CVM had successfully converted online teaching and complemented the educational opportunities for students with free courses offered by the University of Illinois, the Veterinary Dental Company, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
To prepare for the MSU fall semester, CVM will keep the classes virtual where possible, ensuring that the required laboratory and clinical experience is safe through personal protective equipment, social distancing and other practices. Training opportunities for practicing veterinarians such as the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences summer webinar series will continue to be available.
The MSU Veterinary Medical Center continued to screen patients during the pandemic, which gave college researchers an opportunity to learn more about the prevalence of COVID-19 in pets and other animal and owner-related factors that could be linked to infection. Daniel Langlois, Associate Professor in the Small Animal Clinical Science Department, is working with Steve Bolin, Professor in the Pathobiology and Diagnostic Studies Department, and other faculties to fill these gaps through a combination of polymerase chain reaction and antibody testing, as well as pet owner surveys.
“We really don’t know what impact COVID-19 had on the pet population in our region,” Langlois said. “We hope to find out which pets, if any, actually need to be tested. At the same time, our results should better inform safety protocols and the use of personal protective equipment in veterinary clinics. “
The college’s researchers also wondered how the pandemic might affect the human-animal bond between pets and their owners. Kirk Munoz, assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences for Small Animals, is working with Jane Manfredi, assistant professor in the Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Studies, to interview pet owners and use that data to assess the effects of COVID-19 on the way how people treat their pets.
“We know that human-animal bonding has many benefits for people, including improved mental health,” said Munoz. “When we collect this information from pet owners and determine whether or not they are medically trained, we can gain important insights into how COVID-19 affects our relationships with our most popular animals.”
Animal health care
During the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the hospital’s clinical team saved the lives of their patients by protecting themselves and their customers. Although the hospital was closed to all non-showing patients on March 16, the doors were never closed. This did not come without a price; In late June, they had to make difficult operational changes to limit their busyness and protect the mental and physical health of their team. But despite the long, busy hours, fatigue, worries and emotional strain, our spartan veterinary team never stopped working.
Thanks to a parking lot triage system, full coverage of personal protective equipment and the greatest possible physical distancing, the hospital team was able to stay healthy in just three months and treat 13,910 patients. With its unwavering commitment to animal health, the MSU Veterinary Medical Center has given the phrase “Not all heroes wear capes” a special meaning.
The hard work has paid off. The college community has not reported a single positive COVID-19 case according to the hospital’s mandatory SMS screening system.
“The VMC teamwork is exactly what a Spartan is about – the hard work, sacrifice and expertise that we offer our patients and their owners, regardless of the circumstances. And we’re very lucky, ”said Birgit Puschner, dean of the college.
The hospital has also been able to fund clients through the college’s Lucky Fund and the Retired Police and Arson Dog Fund. Thanks to the college’s house system (all veterinary and nursing students, faculty and staff are grouped into one of four houses. Just like at Hogwarts, the houses provide a “home” to members of our community), $ 1,000 has been given to clients both in the large as well as in the small animal clinic, which received emergency care. The total allocation was $ 26,000; To date, $ 12,402 of these funds has been used.
* *This test is not currently available for routine testing to veterinarians or the public.
For guidance on when testing is appropriate, see Evaluating SARS-CoV-2 Tests in Animals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Guidelines for Testing Animals for SARS-CoV 2 and in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Coronavirus Testing FAQ.
Contact your state veterinarian to get approval and the information needed for testing. For Michigan animals, call the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at 800-292-3939. Positive test results will be reported upon confirmation by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory. Any evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in an animal must be reported to the World Organization for Animal Health.