Zoo Outbreak: Lions, Tigers from Washington DC’s National Zoo All Tested Positive for COVID-19

Nature

COVID-19 has been found in the lions and tigers at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. According to the zoo’s announcement on Friday, six African lions, a Sumatran tiger, and two Amur tigers all tested positive for the coronavirus.

That implies the animals passed laboratory tests, but the United States Department of Agriculture must verify the results. Coughing, sneezing, decreased appetite, and lethargy is among the signs displayed by the large cats, leading zookeepers to suspect they are sick.

“We are treating all animals as positive since the test results are presumptive positive, and we are witnessing symptoms in the animals,” zoo spokesperson Pamela Baker-Masson told DCist.

Uncertain About the Viral Spread

Lion

(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Zookeepers aren’t sure how the animals became sick. According to the zoo, the cats are still under “tight monitoring” and have access to their outside habitats. According to the news release, the creatures do not represent a threat to the public due to the physical distance between them and visitors. (There’s also no proof that felines can transmit COVID-19 to humans at this time.)

There was no need to swab the large cats’ noses for testing because feces samples were used.

Related Article: Coronavirus Oubreak in Animals: 60% of Deer in Michigan Tested Positive for COVID-19

Zoo Animals Infected

The lions and tigers are the most recent zoo inhabitants to catch the coronavirus since the outbreak began. Tigers and lions in New York City (all recovered), snow leopards in Kentucky and San Diego, and otters in Georgia are among the numerous species that have been rescued. Last week, 19 gorillas at Georgia’s Zoo Atlanta tested positive for the disease and had symptoms including coughing and runny noses.

Some zoos have begun immunizing animals using the Zoetis vaccine, which was created specifically for animals. For example, several orangutans and bonobos were vaccinated at the San Diego Zoo in March. In July, the Oakland Zoo in California began immunizing large cats, bears, ferrets, and primates.

Training Animals for Vaccination  

Tiger

(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Many zoo animals have previously been trained to receive vaccinations, as they must be inoculated against illnesses such as rabies. So after they get a shot, they might be regarded as part of the training. For example, mountain lions were given goat milk at the Oakland Zoo, a chimp was given M&Ms, and bears were given ice cream on a spoon, according to PBS.

Covid Spreading to Animals

There have been reports of animals infected with SARS-CoV-2 all around the world. Most of these animals got infected by coming into touch with COVID-19-infected people, such as their owners, caregivers, or others nearby. Unfortunately, we don’t yet know all of the creatures that are susceptible to infection.

Many research has been conducted to understand better how this virus affects different species. However, these findings are based on a limited number of animals and do not indicate whether animals transmit disease to humans.

Also Read: Scientists Double Effort to Find Possible Next Pandemic, Caused by Other Zoonotic Diseases

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