By NewsDesk @bactiman63
The Saint Louis Zoo reported Thursday that eight big cats have recently tested positive for SARS-CoV-2– two African lions, two snow leopards, two jaguars, an Amur tiger, and a puma.
The animals continue to be closely monitored and a full recovery for all of the big cats is expected thanks to a combination of preventative and ongoing care. Most of the big cats showed no signs of illness. A few of them showed a decreased appetite and less activity for short periods of time. Some cats developed respiratory signs, including ocular and nasal discharge and a cough for a couple of days.
The spread of the virus is isolated to one area of the Zoo – Big Cat Country – and no other animals at the Zoo are showing any signs of infection.
All of the cats at Big Cat Country received a two-dose series of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine specific for animals between September 30 and October 26, 2021, but were likely exposed prior to the second dose. 50 animals at the Zoo have received both SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses specific for animals and another 42 have received one dose.
The Zoo has conducted a thorough investigation and a risk assessment involving relevant staff, and has found no evidence to identify the source of the infection. While it is possible the infection was transmitted by an asymptomatic carrier, it has been standard practice for all staff to mask indoors anywhere at the Zoo as well as at all times when around potentially at-risk animals. The Zoo requires staff to be vaccinated and the existing COVID-19 protocols require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), employee self-screening and health management. The Zoo’s COVID-19 safety and response protocols are in place and being strictly followed.