Negative Results after Testing Five Thousand Animals for the New Pandemic
Suzanne Abou Said Daou
SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test is the name of the new test specifically designed for testing of animals for the coronavirus, five thousand animals including dogs, cats and even horses in 17 countries, were subjected to this test, and ALL the results came negative.
In a statement by IDEXX Laboratories, the company that developed this test, “the test came 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”, they added: ”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, enabled by IDEXX Reference Laboratories, the company's worldwide network of more than 80 laboratories, growing evidence that pets can contract SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19”.
Jay Mazelsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of IDEXX Laboratories, said: “We have continued to monitor the rapidly evolving public health crisis worldwide, paying special attention to the effects on pets,” He added: “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”.
The RealPCR™ test must meet 3 criteria after consultation with a public health authority (i.e., a state public health veterinarian in the United States), these are:
1- If pet is living in a household with a human who has COVID-19 or has tested positive for the virus
2- If pet has already been tested for more common infections that a veterinarian has ruled out.
3- If pet (especially cats and ferrets) is showing clinical signs consistent with COVID-19.
According to IDEXX coronavirus diagnostic update, leading public health authorities (CDC, WHO, American Veterinary Medical Association and World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) do agree that COVID-19 is primarily a human disease that is transmitted by direct human-to-human transmission in respiratory droplets, also secondary transmission by touching a surface with the virus on it may also be possible, particularly from smooth surfaces such as plastic or metal, in contrary to porous surfaces such as clothing and fur are thought to be less than ideal surfaces for fomite transmission.
AVMA wrote on their site: “to date, globally, the only pets incidentally exposed to COVID-19 that have tested positive, with confirmation, for SARS-CoV-2 are two pet dogs and a pet cat in Hong Kong, and two pet cats in in the United States. The two pet cats in the United States both had signs of mild respiratory illness, and are expected to make a full recovery. The pet cat in Hong Kong did not exhibit clinical signs of disease. Another pet cat in Belgium tested positive, but details around that case are less clear. The dogs and cats in Hong Kong were each in the care of and had close contact with a person who had been confirmed to have COVID-19. In the case of the cat in Belgium, other diseases and conditions that could have caused those same signs of illness were not ruled out and there are also questions about how samples demonstrating the presence of SARS-CoV-2 were collected and evaluated. That cat recovered”.
They advised owners: “Until more is known about this virus, if you are ill with COVID-19 you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people. When possible, have another member of your household or business care for any animals, including pets while you are sick. If you have a service animal or you must care for your animals, including pets, wear a cloth face covering; don’t pet, share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet, service animal, or other animals. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home”.
They noted that further guidance on managing pets in homes where people are sick with COVID-19 is available from the CDC.
The IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test, tested more than 3,500 canine, feline, and equine specimens in the first four weeks after development, and in parallel with three assays from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and by mid of April a collective of 5 thousand were tested and all came negative.
Mazelsky noted in a statement: “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”.
The SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test for pets is done in the same manner as human are tested, it can detect the presence of the virus in deep pharyngeal swab as well as analyzing feces, IDEXX says that it does not expect the pet test will impact human testing or the availability of tests, and the company’s OPTI Medical Systems, is advancing support of human COVID-19 testing with the development of a PCR test kit for human beings as well.
Sources: IDEXX, CDC, WHO, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).