COVID-19 customer resources

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IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test

For rare cases in consultation with your public health authority.
Complete testing information

Frequently asked questions

 
Can pets be infected by or transmit COVID-19?
 
Why has IDEXX decided to make the SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test available?
 
In what clinical cases does IDEXX recommend ordering the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test?
 

Yes. The IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test for pets 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, enabled by IDEXX Reference Laboratories, the company's worldwide network of more than 80 laboratories.

Leading health authorities and IDEXX veterinarians agree that transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is primarily person to person and advise against testing asymptomatic pets. In symptomatic pets, it is more likely that disease is caused by a more common respiratory infection than by COVID-19.

IDEXX's guidance, aligned with that of medical experts, 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 these three specific criteria are met:

  • Pet is living in a household with a human who has COVID-19 or has tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus
  • Pet has already been tested for more common infections, which a veterinarian has ruled out
  • Pet (especially cats and ferrets) is showing clinical signs consistent with COVID-19

Yes. To review positive cases detected by the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test, please click here.

 

Experts continue to reassure pet owners there is low likelihood of pet infection and even lower likelihood of our pets serving as a source of infection. Leading public health authorities agree that COVID-19 is primarily a human disease that is transmitted by direct human-to-human transmission in respiratory droplets.1-4 Since mid-February, IDEXX has tested over 5,000 specimens for the COVID-19 virus. The specimens were submitted to IDEXX Reference Laboratories for respiratory tests of sick cats, dogs and horses in 17 different countries. To date, IDEXX has found no positive results in pets for the COVID-19 virus, suggesting that dogs and cats living with infected people generally remain uninfected, except in rare and isolated cases.

While there is currently no evidence that dogs or cats play a role in transmitting the disease to humans, growing clinical evidence suggests there may be varying levels of susceptibility to infection in animals. Recent studies have demonstrated that cats and ferrets may be infected in experimental settings and transmit to other animals, while dogs are generally resistant to infection, likely due to species differences in their ACE-2 receptors.7-9 

In isolated cases, reverse zoonotic (infected human to pet) transmission has been reported in cats and tigers.10,11 Serologic evidence suggests asymptomatic infections in cats may be more common than initially suspected.12  Infection in cats and ferrets is often subclinical but may present with mild respiratory signs, fever and, in some cases, gastrointestinal signs. In these non-primary host species, infection seems to be shorter in duration than in humans. Although transient reverse-zoonotic infections have been sporadically reported in dogs living with COVID-19 infected humans, no clinical signs have been reported in these dogs.10-13 Pets are not believed to play a role in transmitting COVID-19 to humans.1-4

For the most up-to-date information on the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to animals, please visit the CDC COVID-19 website

For the references list, click here.

The global understanding of COVID-19 is ever evolving.  Experts continue to agree that transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is primarily person to person. As part of our research we have reviewed over 5,000 specimens submitted to IDEXX Reference Laboratories for respiratory tests of sick cats and dogs in 17 different countries. To review positive cases detected by the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test, please click here.

This information together with isolated reports of two dogs and a cat in Hong Kong, a cat in Belgium and now a tiger at a New York zoo showing positive results for SARS-CoV-2 testing indicates there may be varying levels of susceptibility requiring further investigation. As the research continues into the isolated positive test results in pets, we are learning that cats and ferrets may have a higher susceptibility to low level infections than dogs. With this collected body of evidence, leading veterinary and public experts continue to reassure pet owners there is low likelihood of pet infection and even lower likelihood of our pets serving as a source of infection. In symptomatic patients, it is more likely that disease is caused by more common infections than COVID-19. We learn more every day, and if we deem it clinically important to commercialize our IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test, we will make it available for veterinarians and their patients.

 

The global understanding of COVID-19 is ever evolving. Experts continue to agree that transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is primarily person to person. As part of our research we have reviewed over 5,000 specimens submitted to IDEXX Reference Laboratories for respiratory tests of sick cats and dogs in 17 different countries. To review positive cases detected by the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test, please click here.

Note: The PCR tests referenced in relation to the Hong Kong dogs and cat, the Belgian cat, and the NYC tiger were NOT done by IDEXX nor at an IDEXX Reference Laboratory.

While there is currently no evidence that dogs or cats play a role in transmitting the disease to humans, isolated reports of positive results for SARS-CoV-2 in two dogs and a cat in Hong Kong, a cat in Belgium and a tiger at a New York zoo suggest there may be varying levels of susceptibility to infections in animals that require further study. Cats and ferrets may be more susceptible to clinical infections while dogs seem generally resistant to infection, likely due to species differences in their ACE receptors1-3 which the virus uses to enter the cells.1

A cat in Belgium living in close contact with a COVID-19 infected owner presented with transient respiratory signs, vomiting and diarrhea while a cat in Hong Kong that tested PCR positive did not exhibit any clinical signs. A tiger in a New York zoo has been infected with COVID-19. Public health officials believe the tiger had been in the vicinity of a zoo employee who was positive for the COVID-19 virus. 

None of the dogs for which PCR tests came back positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus have shown symptoms that would indicate infection. A geriatric Pomeranian dog with pre-existing conditions living in a household with infected humans in Hong Kong was reported to have tested a weak positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. At no time did the dog develop clinical signs consistent with COVID-19 infection. A second dog from the same household consistently tested negative. In another Hong Kong home, a dog living with a COVID-19 positive human also tested PCR positive for the virus but showed no clinical signs of infection. 

With this collected body of evidence, leading veterinary and public health experts continue to reassure pet owners there is low likelihood of pet infection and even lower likelihood of our pets serving as a source of infection. In symptomatic pets, it is more likely that disease is caused by a more common respiratory infection than by COVID-19. 
 

  1. Wan Y, Shang J, Graham R, Baric RS, Li F. Receptor recognition by the novel coronavirus from Wuhan: an analysis based on decade-long structural studies of SARS coronavirus. J Virol. 2020;94(7):e00127-20. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00127-20
  2. Shi J, Wen Z, Zhong G, et al.  Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs and different domestic animals to SARS-coronavirus-2. Pre-press https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.30.015347
  3. Kim Y, Kim SG, Kim SM, et al. Infection and rapid transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in ferrets. Pre-press https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2020.03.023
 

Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been various theories and myths about how this virus might have emerged in humans. According to leading infectious disease expert Dr. Scott Weese, the latest theory that humans got COVID-19 because dogs ate coronavirus-infected bats is speculative at best.

  • There is currently no evidence that dogs or cats play a role in transmitting the disease to humans. And, there is no evidence dogs were the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) respiratory outbreak in humans. 
  • Leading public health authorities (including the AVMA, CDC, and OIE) agree that COVID-19 is primarily a human disease that is transmitted by direct human-to-human transmission in respiratory droplets. 
  • Since mid-February, IDEXX Reference Laboratories has tested over 5,000 specimens for the COVID-19 virus, from cats, dogs and horses with respiratory symptoms in 17 countries. To date, IDEXX has found no positive results. This suggests dogs and cats generally remain uninfected, except in rare and isolated cases. 
  • Research and current information indicate that there can be varying levels of susceptibility to short-lived infections in pets, particularly cats and ferrets. Experimental infection studies have shown that dogs are generally resistant to infection.
     

For more information, read this blog by leading infectious disease expert, Dr Scott Weese.

 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses consisting of multiple subgroups of viruses that are commonly found in humans as well as other mammals, birds, and reptiles. Common coronaviruses causing respiratory or gastrointestinal disease in our veterinary patients are alpha coronaviruses. 

  • The IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test detects SARS-CoV-2 in pets based on the published genetic sequences of the virus from the human outbreak. IDEXX's guidance, aligned with that of medical experts, 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 these three specific criteria are met:
    • Pet is living in a household with a human who has COVID-19 or has tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus 
    • Pet has already been tested for more common infections, which a veterinarian has ruled out 
    • Pet (especially cats and ferrets) is showing clinical signs consistent with COVID-19 
       
  • The IDEXX Comprehensive Canine Respiratory Disease (CRD) RealPCR Panel includes the IDEXX RealPCR Test for canine respiratory coronavirus. Canine respiratory coronavirus contributes to canine infectious respiratory disease complex (also known as infectious tracheobronchitis or “kennel cough”). This panel is not a test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. 
  • IDEXX Comprehensive Diarrhea RealPCR panels include IDEXX RealPCR tests for canine, equine, ferret, and feline enteric coronavirus. Enteric coronaviruses can cause intestinal infections leading to diarrhea, particularly in younger animals. These panels are not a test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. 
  • IDEXX FIP Virus RealPCR Biotype (Add-on to Feline Coronavirus RealPCR Test) detects the most common mutations causing feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a mutated form of feline enteric coronavirus resulting in severe, generally fatal, systemic inflammatory disease. This test is not a test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. 
  • IDEXX IBV Ab Test detects gamma coronavirus. Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) causes a highly contagious viral disease in chickens that is usually manifested as a respiratory condition. This test facilitates the monitoring of immune status in large flocks. This test is not a test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
  • IDEXX RealPCR TGEV RNA Mix tests for swine enteric coronaviruses. Severe outbreaks of enteric coronaviruses, characterized by acute and rapidly spreading diarrhea, are threatening swine operations worldwide. This test is not a test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
  • IDEXX Rota-Corona-k99 Ag Test is an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) that differentiates between rotavirus, coronavirus, and E. coli infections by antigen detection. Bovine coronaviruses may cause diarrhea in calves. They can also cause winter dysentery, with bloody diarrhea, mild respiratory signs, and decreased production in adult cattle. This test is not a test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
 

Our understanding of COVID-19 transmission has been rapidly evolving. Leading experts (including the AVMA, CDC, and OIE) still feel that pets do not play a significant role in transmitting COVID-19 to humans. However, there is growing evidence that pets can be at risk of being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus following exposure to infected humans. In the past month there have been several isolated reports of reverse-zoonotic transmission to animals, including two dogs and a cat in Hong Kong, a cat in Belgium and a tiger (and possibly other large felids) in the Bronx Zoo. There is evidence that at least some of these cases are true infection, not just environmental contamination. In addition, recent experimental infection studies have demonstrated that cats and ferrets can be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and can transmit infection to other cats or ferrets. Infected cats and ferrets may be asymptomatic or may have fever, mild respiratory signs or GI signs. A serologic survey suggests that infection in cats may be more common than previously suspected. Dogs appear to be more resistant to infection and especially to clinical disease compared to cats or ferrets, likely due to differences in their ACE-2 receptors which the virus uses to enter the cells.  

As this new information becomes widely recognized, opinion is shifting as to whether testing of pets is indicated. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) states “If a decision is made as a result of a risk assessment to test a companion animal which has had close contact with a person/owner infected with COVID-19, it is recommended that RT-PCR be used to test oral, nasal and fecal/rectal samples.”  

Veterinarians (including public health officials) are reaching out to IDEXX asking for availability of the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR test for use in testing pets from COVID-19 infected households where the pets (especially cats and ferrets) have clinical signs consistent with COVID-19 and diagnostics for more common veterinary pathogens have been ruled out. Testing of nonclinical pets is not recommended by leading experts other than at the recommendation of a public health authority.

 

IDEXX's guidance, aligned with that of medical experts, 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 these three specific criteria are met:

  • Pet is living in a household with a human who has COVID-19 or has tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus
  • Pet has already been tested for more common infections, which a veterinarian has ruled out
  • Pet (especially cats and ferrets) is showing clinical signs consistent with COVID-19
     

Testing of symptomatic pets in COVID-19 infected households may not always be indicated as clinical signs, when present, may be mild and transient. The IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test may be considered when investigating respiratory disease in ferrets or cats after more common respiratory infections have been ruled out. Consultation with a local health authority prior to considering testing for COVID-19 in a pet is recommended. Testing should be limited to those animals with known or strongly suspected COVID-19 exposure. For cats presenting with respiratory signs, a Feline Upper Respiratory Disease (URD) RealPCR Panel should be considered prior to evaluating for SARS-CoV-2 infection, even in cats from a COVID-19 positive household. Ferrets presenting with respiratory signs should be evaluated with an Influenza Virus RealPCR Panel in addition to testing with the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test.

Although the IDEXX-SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test targets the same nucleocapsid gene as the CDC assays, the test is not the same as the human tests. The IDEXX COVID-19 test has been specifically designed for use in veterinary patients, to avoid cross-reactivity with veterinary coronaviruses, and to perform on the standardized IDEXX RealPCR platform. 

IDEXX Reference Laboratories is a veterinary diagnostic laboratory only. We are not approved for human testing and will not process any samples showing such markers. 

No. The IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test was developed specifically for use in animals and was carefully designed to avoid cross reactivity with other veterinary-specific coronavirus strains that infect pets. IDEXX Reference Laboratories are designed for veterinary diagnostics only. Given our focus on and expertise in veterinary diagnostics, our laboratories are not approved for handling human specimens.

OPTI Medical Systems ​
The company's human health business, OPTI Medical Systems, is advancing 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.

 

Not currently. Although of academic interest in differentiating environmental contamination from transient infection in pets, an antibody test for pets has less value in identifying and managing infection than a PCR test which can test for active infection. Testing for antibodies against the SARSCoV-2 virus shows some promise in human medicine to identify people who have already been exposed to COVID-19 in the past and therefore are possibly at lower risk of catching COVID-19. It is proposed that this may help in determining which essential workers would be safest to serve in high risk areas. Pets appear to get only rarely infected, and when they do, the infection is commonly nonclinical or mildly clinical and short-lived. Pets are also not believed to play a role in transmitting disease to humans at this time.

While the situation is highly dynamic, we are committed to providing you the products, services, and support you’ve come to trust. We are well positioned generally to maintain your necessary supplies and services. We will work to keep you updated should this change. For some high-demand supplies, you may notice a maximum quantity limit when ordering. We remain committed and engaged are guided by the needs and wishes you share with us.

With a global network of more than 80 IDEXX Reference Laboratories, IDEXX is continuing to receive and process your patient samples. Transportation delays caused by measures implemented by national, regional, and local governments may result in delays in turnaround times. 
Some tests sent to third-party laboratories by IDEXX are experiencing delays or may be unavailable due to regional flight cancellations and lab closures. Tests that become unavailable will be removed from the online test directory. Please check the online directory or VetConnect PLUS regularly for up-to-date information.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses consisting of multiple sub-groups that are commonly found in humans and other mammals, birds and reptiles. Coronaviruses get their name from their spiked surface proteins, or corona, which is Latin for crown. Coronavirus infections in animals, such as feline enteric coronavirus, are usually alpha coronaviruses.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, is a unique coronavirus that infects the human respiratory tract and differs from previously identified coronaviruses infecting humans or veterinary patients. SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain responsible for this COVID-19 respiratory outbreak in humans, is a beta coronavirus.

COVID-19 was first detected in China with an initial outbreak in the city of Wuhan. SARS-CoV-2 is believed to have originated from bats. Since its emergence in late 2019, COVID-19 has spread to locations around the globe.

We at IDEXX understand the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a great strain on many small  independently owned businesses and this is an especially challenging time for veterinary practices.

To support you as you deal with widespread disruptions to your business, we are offering a 30-day extension to standard payment terms for all purchases made from March 1 through March 31, 2020.

Payments for purchases and services provided in March will now be due in May. Given the urgency of enacting this change, our invoices and statements will continue to reflect your standard payment terms. However, these amounts will not be considered past due during this 30-day extension.


My clinic is part of a larger corporate business. Does this program apply to my clinic?

Our relief program is designed for small businesses that are especially challenged. However, IDEXX will work closely with our corporate practice group partners to assess additional needs.

Thank you for being #VeterinaryHeroes!

During these uncertain times, you continue to do the impossible, every day. That’s what heroes do, and to our team members and their pets worldwide, you are truly our heroes.

Read more

Important message for IDEXX customers in Norway


As a government measure designed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus has been issued in one or more areas of your country, IDEXX has updated this page with relevant information and guidance. 

We are here to help in any way we can. While the situation is highly dynamic, veterinary care is an essential service and we are committed to providing you the products, services, and support you’ve come to trust.  We are well positioned generally to maintain your veterinary supplies and services:

  • You can continue to run in-clinic diagnostics on your IDEXX or other point-of-care instruments and rapid assays as usual, especially for urgent patients. We suggest keeping 2–4 weeks of consumables in inventory in case of transportation delays caused by flight cancellations.
  • With a global network of more than 80 laboratories worldwide, IDEXX is continuing to receive and process your patient specimens across our network of IDEXX Reference Laboratories.
     

Please be aware that transportation delays caused by measures implemented by national, regional, and local governments may result in delays in turnaround times at IDEXX Reference Laboratories, as well as in shipping supplies to you. We will work to keep you updated if this should occur.

To support the health and safety of you, your clients and our IDEXX employees, IDEXX will follow the guidance of local government and health authorities regarding travel and in person visits. So long as the government has approved travel within the country for business reasons, we remain available to visit. We also respect and will defer to your preference for meeting in person or remotely.

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