By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo reported Friday that nine big cats have presumptively tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The count as of Friday includes six African lions, a Sumatran tiger and two Amur tigers.
Last weekend, animal keepers observed decreased appetites, coughing, sneezing and lethargy in several lions and tigers. Fecal samples for all great cats were collected and tested presumptive positive. Final results are expected in the next few days.
All lions and tigers are being treated with anti-inflammatories and anti-nausea medication to address discomfort and decreased appetite. In addition, all are being treated with antibiotics for presumptive secondary bacterial pneumonia.
No other animals at the Zoo are showing any signs of infection.
The Zoo has conducted a thorough investigation of all staff that were in close proximity to the lions and tigers. There is no evidence to pinpoint the source of the infection. While it is possible the infection was transmitted by an asymptomatic carrier, it has been standard practice for all animal care staff and essential staff to mask indoors in all public and non-public areas. The health and vaccination status of employees is confidential medical information.