By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The Louisville Zoo announced Friday that a snow leopard has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.

Snow leopard
Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

The affected animal is a 5-year-old female named NeeCee. The Zoo is awaiting confirmatory results of the other two male snow leopards – Kimti and Meru. All three cats are doing well with very mild symptoms, and the Zoo continues to monitor their health closely. All are are expected to fully recover.

It is suspected that they acquired the infection from an asymptomatic staff member, despite precautions taken by the zoo. In April, zoo keepers working with cats, non-human primates, bats and ferrets began wearing PPE when near the animals. All Zoo staff go through a health screening at the start of their day, stay at home if feeling unwell and are tested if symptoms of COVID-19 arise.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) says this is the first snow leopard in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in a small number of animals worldwide, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person with COVID-19. At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended, according to the USDA.

To date, 58 Lions, tigers, mink, dogs and cats have tested positive by PCR at initial diagnosis and another 52 dogs and cats tested positive by antibody test.

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