Protecting the health, safety and welfare of the general public and animals

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The West Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine is actively monitoring the effects of the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The Board is dedicated to fulfilling its primary mission of protecting the public during this time, while continuing to ensure that West Virginia has the veterinary care workforce it needs to treat and care for animals throughout the state.

At an emergency meeting held March 20, 2020, and pursuant to the Executive Order issued by Governor Jim Justice on March 16, 2020, the West Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine voted to temporarily suspend its rule requiring an in-person, physical examination of an animal prior to treatment, W. Va. Code R. 26-4-5.1.c.1.  The suspension of this rule shall remain in effect only during the State of Emergency.

Therefore, during this crisis, a veterinarian licensed in West Virginia may employ telemedicine, when possible and practicable, to examine, diagnose, and treat an animal and to discuss the same with the animal’s owner.  The Board would caution its licensees that telemedicine is not the preferred method of treatment; it should be employed only after carefully considering its limitations and its necessity for protection of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Furthermore, the Board would remind its licensees that the applicable standards of care and patient confidentiality requirements still apply in the telemedicine setting, and that it is necessary to note in the patient’s records that treatment was provided via telecommunication.

Lastly, the Board is aware that a number of veterinary facilities throughout West Virginia have taken proactive measures in treating patients who present in-person, including limiting or closing access to waiting rooms and requiring that owners wait outside in their vehicle while their pet is treated inside.  In addition to these and other measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19, the Board recommends that elective and routine appointments, such as wellness checks, be rescheduled for at least 14 days and up to 30 days.

Additional information may be accessed at the websites of the AAVSB and AVMA:

As you aware, this situation is fluid, and it may be necessary for the Board to revisit these actions and recommendations.  Please continue to check the Board’s website for any updated information.

Please contact the Board at 304-776-8032 with any further concerns.