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Maine lab IDEXX makes pet test for COVID-19 available to veterinarians

The company’s human health business, OPTI Medical Systems, is also working to advance support of human COVID-19 testing with the development of a PCR test kit.

WESTBROOK, Maine — IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., which is based in Westbrook, announced Monday the availability of the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR™ Test for pets amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement posted to the company's website, IDEXX said it is launching the test 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. 

The test will be available to veterinarians in North America this week and will continue to roll out across most of the world in the coming weeks.

“We have continued to monitor the rapidly evolving public health crisis worldwide, paying special attention to the effects on pets,” Jay Mazelsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of IDEXX Laboratories, said. “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.”

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IDEXX’s guidance is that veterinarians order the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR™ Test after consultation with a public health authority (for example, a state public health veterinarian in the United States) and three specific criteria are met:

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

IDEXX does not expect this veterinary test to have an impact on human COVID-19 testing or availability.

The company’s human health business, OPTI Medical Systems, is also working to advance support of human COVID-19 testing with the development of a PCR test kit, enabled by IDEXX’s expertise in livestock PCR test development and manufacturing. 

OPTI Medical has validated a PCR test kit specifically developed for use in humans and intended primarily for limited initial distribution to existing customers that are active in human COVID-19 testing. This initiative is in an early stage of development, and the company said it will share more information as it advances its capabilities in this area.  

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