April 20 (Reuters) - IDEXX Laboratories Inc said on Monday it would provide veterinarians a COVID-19 test for pets amid evidence that infected humans could transmit the virus to their pets.
The company advised that veterinarians order the test after consulting a public health authority and only if other common infections have been ruled out in pets showing symptoms and those that have been living in a household with an infected person.
Earlier this month, researchers found that cats and ferrets could catch the coronavirus, prompting the World Health Organization to say it will take a closer look at transmission of the virus between humans and pets. (https://reut.rs/2RDhrIx)
"While there is currently no evidence that dogs or cats play a role in transmitting the disease to humans... 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," IDEXX Labs Chief Executive Officer Jay Mazelsky said in a statement.
The company said it would make the test available to veterinarians in North America this week and roll out across most of the world in the coming weeks.
IDEXX said it has conducted over 5,000 tests in cats, dogs, and horses with respiratory symptoms and has found no positive results.
"This suggests dogs and cats living with infected people generally remain uninfected, except in rare and isolated cases," the company said, advising against testing pets with no symptoms.
The virus responsible for causing the COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have spread from bats to humans, and barring a few cases of infections in cats and dogs around the world, there has been no evidence that pets can transmit COVID-19 to humans.
(Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)