COVID-19 test for pets now available to veterinarians

April 20, 2020
dvm360 Staff
dvm360, dvm360 May 2020, Volume 51, Issue 5

Idexx Laboratories has made its SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test available in response to requests from veterinarians as well as clinical evidence that animals can—rarely—become infected with the novel coronavirus.

Idexx Laboratories, Inc. announced today that it has made its SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test for pets available to veterinarians, noting in a press release that it has done so “in response to customer demand and growing evidence that in rare cases pets living with COVID-19 positive humans can be at risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

Over the past two months, the company has tested more than 5,000 specimens from cats, dogs and horses with respiratory clinical signs in 17 countries. None of the samples tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“We have continued to monitor the rapidly evolving public health crisis worldwide, paying special attention to the effects on pets,” says Jay Mazelsky, president and CEO of Idexx Laboratories, in the release. “While there is currently no evidence that dogs or cats play a role in transmitting the disease to humans, it became clear offering the test was the right thing to do when we saw clinical evidence that pets—especially cats and ferrets—can in rare cases be at risk for infection. And, we heard from our customers around the globe that veterinarians needed a testing option.”

Beginning this week, the test will be available to veterinarians in North America. It will become available throughout much of the rest of world in the coming weeks, enabled by Idexx Reference Laboratories, which includes more than 80 laboratories worldwide.

In agreement with medical experts, Idexx says that veterinarians who order the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test should first consult with a public health authority (e.g. a U.S. state public health veterinarian). Tests should be reserved for pets that meet the following criteria:

  • Pet lives in a household with a human who has COVID-19 or has tested positive for the virus.
  • Pet has already been tested by a veterinarian for more common infections, which have been ruled out.
  • Pet (especially cats and ferrets) is showing clinical signs consistent with COVID-19.

The Idexx test for pets is not the same as that used in humans, so it should have no impact on human COVID-19 testing or test availability.

Knowledge about of COVID-19 and its effects on animal and human health is evolving rapidly, but leading health authorities and Idexx veterinarians agree that transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus occurs primarily from person to person; thus there is no reason to test asymptomatic pets. The negative results from completed tests suggest that dogs and cats living with infected people are not likely to become infected themselves, except in rare and isolated cases. For more in-depth information, read the Idexx coronavirus diagnostic update.

For information about the Idexx SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test for pets, visit idexx.com/covid19-pet-test.

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