The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), who have recently joined the One Health EJP Stakeholder’s committee, released a qualitative exposure assessment about the risk of exposure of humans or animals to SARS-CoV-2 from wild, livestock, companion and aquatic animals. This assessment highlights the need to assess the potential One Health aspects of COVID-19 in addition to other emerging threats.
One of the aims of the assessment was to assess the risk of human or animal exposure to SARS-CoV-2 through contact with, handling or consumption of wild, domestic and aquatic animals. The report aims to identify the knowledge gaps regarding the origin of the virus, summarise the existing evidence for SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility of different animal species and creates evidence-based recommendations on how to prioritise animal species for investigation and making One Health recommendations on laboratory research, epidemiological and seasonality studies to fill critical knowledge gaps.
The exposure assessment defines the likelihood of human or animal exposure to SARS-CoV-2 directly from an infected host or indirectly via by-products from highest to lowest. It also considers the level of uncertainty when interpreting the data, to reflect data quality and quantity. The assessment was created using primarily peer-reviewed articles relating to SARS-CoV-2, in addition to novel pre-print released, government reports and official press releases, which had not been peer-reviewed. The assessment underwent a two-step review process.
As a result of the assessment, some important suggestions for targeted field investigations were posed including investigating the potential SARS-CoV-2 animal reservoirs and intermediate hosts posing a zoonotic threat, investigation of potential reverse zoonoses (humans to animals), taking samples from live animals, carcasses and markets, increased laboratory testing and data analysis.
Suggested mitigation measures include improving overall biosecurity methods relating to animal husbandry, food hygiene and food market practices in a country-specific manner. The overall recommendation is to use a One Health approach whereby public health, veterinary, forestry and natural resources and wildlife authorities collaborate to systematically investigate SARS-CoV-2 epidemiology coupled with laboratory testing for animal species potentially linked with human cases of COVID-19.
The full document can be found here: https://www.fao.org/3/ca9959en/CA9959EN.pdf