On Friday, a zoo in Atlanta, Georgia announced that a few of its western lowland gorillas had shown “presumptive positive test results” for COVID-19. The primates had exhibited some of the symptoms of the infection. These signs included mild coughing, runny noses and also a small loss of appetite. So, they were tested. The gorillas are being closely monitored and officials hope that they will recover soon.
A statement from Zoo Atlanta said that they sent samples of fecal matter and nasal and oral swabs to the University of Georgia’s Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory which gave a presumptive positive result. They have also sent samples to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa. They are awaiting confirmation from the lab in Ames, Iowa.
Although the zoo follows strict COVID protocols such as personal protective equipment (PPE), Tyvek suits, N95 masks and increased ventilation, the gorillas were affected by the virus. They might have been infected by a care worker who was asymptomatic but later tested positive. The worker was fully vaccinated and had worn PPE when she came to work.
Zoo Atlanta said that samples will be taken from all 20 of their gorillas, who are divided into four groups, to undergo regular testing. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that 13 of the gorillas were being treated, as of now, although Zoo Atlanta did not mention the number of gorillas that were infected with COVID-19.
In a statement Zoo Atlanta also said that it was treating gorillas who were at risk of developing complications from SARS-CoV-2 with monoclonal antibodies. The zoo also said that they would give the gorillas the Zoetis vaccine, which is specifically developed for animals, after they recover.
In its website, the Zoo also mentioned that it had been waiting the Zoetis vaccine, which has been developed for animals and has gained approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The doses have arrived at the zoo, since. The zoo stated that the staff will administer the vaccine to
- Bornean orangutans
- Sumatran orangutans
- Sumatran tigers
- African lions
- Clouded leopards.