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No direct impact to livestock, but Covid-19 does pose a threat to ag

A veterinarian says while the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t pose a threat the animal health, it does create concerns for agriculture.

Dr. Jim Lowe, is a professor of veterinary clinical medicine at the University of Illinois and is an expert on infectious disease management for animals.  “We’re not worried about a direct impact of infecting the critters we work with and live with every day,” he says.  “But, we have a people dependent livestock system.  When we sign up to be stock people, we are saying we are willing to provide care for those animals and do the right thing for them.”

He tells Brownfield with an aging rural population, where access to health care is more restricted, there is a multitude of concerns.  “It’s not just farmers,” he says.  “It’s who is in town, who’s running the grocery store, who is working at the equipment dealer.  We’re going to try and plant a corn crop here relatively soon, we need our fertilizer supplies and we need our seed.  That whole community is not as young as it used to be.”

But, Lowe says, it is a good time to live in Rural America because population density is a factor.  “New York City is being hit really bad right now and if you think about that there are a lot of people crammed in not very much area,” he says.  “So the probability of contacts between infecteds and susceptibles is pretty higher.  And in Rural USA we’re spread out.  We have feet, miles, and acres between people.  And that’s a big advantage in this case.”

He says the virus will eventually become endemic and people will have no choice but to adapt to it, much like society has with influenza.  It also means people will develop some immunity to at least some strains of the virus. 

And while a vaccine may eventually be developed, Lowe says, it could take years

AUDIO: Jim Lowe, professor of veterinary clinical medicine at the University of Illinois

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