Gorillas in the US, positive for the covid-19 virus in initial tests

(CNN) — Initial tests show that lowland gorillas Zoo Atlanta have the covid-19 virus, the zoo reported in a media update on its website.

His staff said Friday that they are waiting to confirm the diagnosis after sending the samples to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

The animals were tested after employees saw that some of them coughed, had runny noses and showed changes in appetite. Analysis by the Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Georgia gave presumptive positive results for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes covid-19.

The affected gorillas are receiving monoclonal antibody treatment and samples are being taken from the zoo’s entire gorilla population for testing, according to the statement. The zoo plans to continue testing the animals on a regular basis.

“The teams are monitoring the affected gorillas very closely and expect them to make a full recovery,” said Sam Rivera, senior director of Animal Health. “They are receiving the best possible care, and we are prepared to provide additional supportive care if necessary.”

It is not known how they contracted the covid-19 virus

Zoo officials said they don’t know exactly how the gorillas became infected. They said the virus may have been transmitted to the animals through a fully vaccinated, asymptomatic, covid-positive employee wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), which is standard practice when working with great apes, he said. the notice.

“Although it is known that humans can transmit the virus to animals such as gorillas, and these cases have occurred in other zoos, there is currently no data to suggest that zoo animals can transmit the virus to humans,” according to the statement. “In any case, visitors to Zoo Atlanta do not pose a transmission threat to gorillas or vice versa, given the distance between the areas used by the guests and the habitats of the animals.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Georgia State Veterinarian have approved Zoo Atlanta to use a vaccine developed specifically for animals, and gorillas will receive the vaccine once they recover. .

For now, the zoo plans to vaccinate its populations of “Borneo and Sumatran orangutans, Sumatran tigers, African lions and clouded leopard,” according to the statement.

CNN’s Amanda Sealy contributed to this report.

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