Important message for IDEXX customers in New Zealand
As the New Zealand Government has mandated quarantine restrictions designed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, 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, 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:
- 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 a minimum of 4 weeks of consumables in inventory in case of transportation delays.
- With a global network of more than 80 laboratories worldwide, IDEXX is continuing to receive and process your patient samples across our network of IDEXX Reference Laboratories in New Zealand.
Please be aware that transportation delays caused by measures implemented by the New Zealand Government may result in delays in turn-around times at IDEXX Reference Laboratories, as well as in shipping supplies to you from our distributor, Provet (NZ). As of today, we are not aware of any systemic transportation delays. 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, during the quarantine period IDEXX will follow the guidance of the New Zealand 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.
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?
IDEXX New Zealand does not currently offer a test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
The understanding of COVID-19 and its effects on animal and human health is evolving rapidly. 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. 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 that dogs and cats living with infected people generally remain uninfected, except in rare and isolated cases. For more in-depth information, read the IDEXX coronavirus diagnostic update.
Yes, in a limited number of cases. Positive results are confirmed internally in triplicate using the IDEXX test as well as three United States Centers for Disease Control (US CDC) assays. Positives have been confirmed by independent testing by the United States Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories (USDA-NVSL). A list of the positive cases are available at the link below:
Yes. The IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test targets a part of the virus’ genome which has not been affected by the mutations in the variants that have been discovered to date. As new strains are identified, IDEXX continues to monitor the genetic changes in the virus to ensure that our test maintains its diagnostic accuracy.
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 During the validation of the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test, IDEXX tested over 6,000 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 (February 14 – April 17, 2020). In April 2020, the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test became available for use in pets with clinical signs and known exposure to an infected human. Despite exponential growth in positive human cases globally, only a very limited number of cases have been identified in pet dogs and cats. To review a summary of positive cases detected by the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test, please click here.
While there is currently no evidence that dogs or cats play a role in transmitting the disease to humans, clinical evidence suggests there may be varying levels of susceptibility to infection in animals. 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, ferrets, and dogs.10,11 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.
In addition to dogs and cats, natural infection (non-experimental) cases have been identified in mink, ferrets, gorillas, and large felids, including lions, snow leopards, tigers, and cougars. Unlike pets, mink have been identified as a susceptible species which could potentially pose as a reservoir of infection and viral mutation when SARS-CoV-2 is introduced by infected humans into a high population density situation such as a mink farm.
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.
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.
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.
News and media
Press release, March 13, 2020: Leading Veterinary Diagnostic Company Sees No COVID-19 Cases in Pets
Diagnostic update: Coronavirus update: emerging coronavirus strains and veterinary patients
Publication: Journal of Small Animal Practice (2020), 1-7: Frequency of respiratory pathogens and SARS-CoV-2 in canine and feline samples submitted for respiratory testing in early 2020. doi: 10.1111/jsap.13300
COVID-19 and Pets: Current Recommendations and Resource Toolkit
April 6 and 7, 2020
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.
Additional COVID-19 resources
- World Health Organization
- Centers for Disease Control (U.S.)
- American Veterinary Medical Association (U.S.)
- World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
- Federation of Veterinarians of Europe
- Robert Koch Institut (Germany)
- Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Japan)
- National Institute of Infectious Diseases (Japan)