Hexbyte Glen Cove S.African lions, pumas contracted COVID from zoo workers: study

Hexbyte Glen Cove

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Big cats caged in zoos are at risk from catching COVID-19 from their keepers, a study said Tuesday.

Research led by scientists at the University of Pretoria found three lions and two pumas fell ill with coronavirus—and the clues point to infection by their handlers, some of whom were asymptomatic.

“Reverse zoonotic (animal-borne) transmission of COVID-19… posed a risk to kept in captivity,” the authors said.

The investigation was launched after three lions at an unnamed private zoo in Johannesburg fell ill last year with breathing difficulties, runny noses and a dry cough.

One of the three developed pneumonia while the other two recovered after experiencing milder symptoms.

As the signs were similar to coranovirus among humans, the animals were tested for COVID-19 and these came back positive.

To establish the source of the infection, 12 zoo workers who had had direct and indirect contact with the animals were then tested, five of whom tested positive.

“This data suggests that SARS-CoV-2 was circulating among staff during the time that the lions got sick, and suggests that those with direct contact with the animals were likely responsible for the reverse zoonotic transmission,” said Marietjie Venter, a professor of virology at the university.

Genome sequencing on viral samples taken from the humans and the found that the lions had become infected with the Delta variant of COVID-19, which was circulating in South Africa at the time.

A year earlier, two pumas that had exhibited signs of anorexia, diarrhoea and nasal discharge also tested positive for COVID.

They were treated and recovered after three weeks.

A PCR test of the pumas’ faeces at the time confirmed the presence of COVID virus.

When the scientists tried later to do genetic sequencing, there was insufficient viral material left to determine which variant was to blame.

The assumption however, is that the pumas also fell ill after being infected by humans.

The research appears in a peer-reviewed, open-access journal called Viruses.

© 2022 AFP

S.African lions, pumas contracted COVID from zoo workers: study (2022, January 18)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Lions at Zagreb zoo catch COVID from their keeper

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Two lions at the Zagreb zoo have tested positive for COVID-19 that they had contracted from their keeper, officials said on Wednesday.

These are the first confirmed cases of the disease in in Croatia, an agriculture ministry statement said.

Laboratory tests on samples taken from the two animals after they had developed symptoms of the disease confirmed that they have COVID-19, it said.

The big cats, who are undergoing , caught the infection from their keeper who was also tested afterwards and was positive, head of the zoo Damir Skok said.

“The zookeeper as well as (lions) Leo and Ayana are fine.

“They sneeze and cough occasionally” and are recovering, he told local media.

Zoo visitors cannot contract the coronavirus from the lions as they are kept behind a glass fence, he added.

Other animals that the keeper was taking care of were also tested for COVID-19 and results of the tests are excepted soon.

In September, several US zoos, including the one in Washington, launched a vaccination campaign for susceptible to COVID-19 after a bout of sickness among them.

Croatia, which has some of Europe’s lowest inoculation rates, is currently facing a record surge of coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic.

The respiratory disease has claimed more than 10,000 lives in the country of 4.2 million people.

© 2021 AFP

Lions at Zagreb zoo catch COVID from their keeper (2021, November 24)
retrieved 25 November 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-lions-zagreb-zoo-covid-keeper.html

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