Guidance for pregnancy scanning during the Covid-19 pandemic
We have been asked by some of our members for clear guidance on ultrasound scanning for pregnancy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our guidance echoes that of the government, in that all non-essential travel and human contact should be avoided at the present time. This includes contact with pets even without the presence of the owner, as the virus could be transmitted from one human to another on an animal’s fur or harness.
There is also new evidence to suggest that animals are becoming infected with the virus. While they may fare far better than their owners (being free from many risk factors, such as underlying coronary artery disease) and may show no symptoms at all, this still means that they are capable of transmitting the disease – so even performing the scan with the owner outside of the room does not guarantee protection for you or the owner.
Should severe restrictions be extended, we will consult with our members and look to publish official association guidelines for the longer term.
As well as the official instructions from the government, we must also take our guidance from the medical profession. Veterinary practices and a number of NHS Trusts are restricting or completely cancelling pregnancy scans during this time, as well as other ‘non-essential’ scans such as outpatient ultrasound and Echocardiograms. The fact that even a heart scan is considered non-essential in a human patient who may have had a recent valve replacement or bypass operation, or an animal patient who may have recently been put onto new heart medication, illustrates the seriousness of the situation. No doctor or veterinarian ever wants to deny a patient care.
In summary, it is difficult to imagine under what circumstance a pregnancy scan could be deemed as essential, given that any serious health concerns should always be immediately referred to a veterinarian.
The difference Animal Ultrasound Association members are making
We are immensely proud of the response of our members to this pandemic. Our members are all serious, responsible and educated scanning professionals, and the safety of our clients is always paramount. AUA members have led by example, and many began taking steps to protect their families, clients and local communities long before stricter measures were announced by the government. Many of our members volunteer at animal shelters and help out in their local communities in other ways during normal conditions, so their immediate, selfless and proportionate response to this current crisis is unsurprising.
Nevertheless, professional scanners are a diverse group of people, with different backgrounds, skills and circumstances. Some of our members are veterinarians, vet nurses, or living and working outside of the United Kingdom. At this time, we must protect and promote our own actions to our clients – which are very much the right thing to do in our circumstances – but without vilifying others for theirs.
There is no doubt that some individuals outside of our community will act irresponsibly during this time. Others operate within an ethical (but not yet legal) grey area, offering justifications for their decisions that we may consider dubious. All we can do in response to this is be proud of our own business ethics, and know that the type of client we aim to serve will only respect the decisions we have made to protect them and the community.
Positive actions we can take
- All of our members are very knowledgeable, with years of experience in breeding. You can provide advice to worried clients during this time, and make the most of your experience to support and guide them in new ways. They do not need to feel abandoned, and most will appreciate the extra effort you are making to reassure them during such a stressful time. It’s a great opportunity to let your clients see the depth of your expertise.
- Use this ‘down’ time productively. Invest time in your business, upload your scans and develop your online AUA profile.
- If you wish to communicate a strong message to your clients and let them know that your decision not to scan is endorsed by the Animal Ultrasound Association, you may display the following image on your websites or Facebook pages. Get in touch if you require this in high resolution. You may also wish to link your clients through to the following advice page for clients.
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March 23, 2020