A subsidiary of veterinary diagnostics firm Idexx Laboratories Inc. will begin producing COVID-19 test kits for people, and the company is offering previously developed testing for pets at its labs worldwide.

The Westbrook-based company announced Monday that its human health subsidiary, Opti Medical Systems, is in the early stages of rolling out test kits specifically for use on human samples.

Opti Medical, which operates in Georgia, already has validated the effectiveness of the test kits, Idexx said in a news release. The initial run of test kits will be offered to existing customers involved in testing patients for COVID-19, it said.

Monday’s news makes Idexx the second company with a major presence in Maine to announce the production of COVID-19 test kits.

Abbott Laboratories, based in Illinois, announced in late March that its plant in Scarborough would be producing 50,000 COVID-19 tests per day of the sort that provide results within minutes.

Idexx also will make its previously announced COVID-19 test for animals available to veterinarians, it said. Animal samples will be tested at Idexx diagnostic labs around the globe.


The company said it has tested samples from over 5,000 cats, dogs and horses with respiratory symptoms in 17 countries, and that it has found no positive results, confirming earlier assessments that it is extremely rare for such animals to contract COVID-19.

However, Idexx said there have been isolated reports of cats and ferrets contracting COVID-19, so it has decided to make the animal testing available to veterinarians under limited circumstances. The pet must be living in a household with a person who has contracted COVID-19, have tested negative for more common infections and be showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, Idexx said.

Veterinary testing, the core business of Idexx, has undergone a dramatic drop-off in demand because of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, Idexx cut pay by 10 percent for most of its employees, which number about 3,000 locally and another 6,000 around the world.

Staff writer Glenn Jordan contributed to this report.

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