New COVID-19 Test Available for Dogs and Cats

Idexx launched a new test this week for COVID in dogs and cats.  This test has been created to assist in detection of the disease in pets displaying symptoms consistent with the viral infection.  At the present time, the ability to order the test is limited to cases where the state health department is involved.  Animals must both be exhibiting symptoms consistent with SARS COV-2 and living in an environment with sufficient contact with humans who have also tested positive.

Transmission of disease from animal to animal has not been documented.  There are very few cases, the NYC zoo tigers and most recently two house cats in NYC, where house pets have appeared to have contracted the disease from humans.  The positive test results were uncovered via screening that Antech Diagnostics (one of the largest veterinary laboratories) has been doing for the last two months.  All samples sent in to the lab for respiratory and GI infection panels have been screened for the SARS COV-2 virus. They have screened over 2,000 samples and only the two house cats have come up with positives.

If Antech finds a sample that has tested positive at their lab, government protocol directs that they contact the USDA, which performs testing at its National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. If the positive result is confirmed, the USDA contacts relevant public health authorities.

The USDA has issued the following statement:

“Public health officials are still learning about SARS-CoV-2, but there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States.  Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals, including pets, could be affected. … At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended.”

Please know that your Mount Laurel Animal Hospital family is keeping a very close eye on this developing situation and will make sure our policies and procedures are modified as needed in this ever changing climate.  We are here 24/7 to assist you with any concerns you may have for your family pets.

Author: Dr. Lauren Simermeyer