In California’s San Diego Zoo, a number of gorillas have been verified for testing Covid-19positive. Officials said that it is the first identified instance of a natural transmission to the gorilla species. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park which is a major tourist attraction in the United States of America has been closed for general public access since December 6, 2020, amid Covid 19 surge.
On Monday, the officials of San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park stated that they have initiated the process of testing fecal samples of the gorillas. This happened after two of the animals began coughing on January 6, the process was started and was being done through the Food Safety Laboratory System and California Animal Health.
The laboratories of the United States Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services verified the results to be positive. The presence of the virus that causes Covid-19: SARS-CoV-2 was confirmed by these results. These results confirm the presence of the virus in some of the gorillas and do not rule out the presence of the virus in other members of the troop. Lisa Peterson the executive director of San Diego Zoo Safari Park said that apart from some congestion and coughing, the infected gorillas are doing well and the quarantined gorillas are eating and drinking together.
Officials said that it is believed that the infected gorillas acquired the infection from some asymptomatic staff members. This may have occurred in spite of following all advised precautions including Covid-19 safety protocols issued by the public health authorities and wearing PPE kits when near the gorillas.
Officials added that the research studies have confirmed that several non-human primates are vulnerable to catch infection with SARS-CoV-2, but this incident is the first known instance of natural transmission of the virus to apes and it is still not known if there would be a series reaction. Apart from this incident, there have been multiple reports of animals being infected with Covid-19. The United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention on its official website updated that there is a risk of people spreading the virus to animals and the first American case of an animal testing positive for Covid-19 was a tiger at a zoo in New York.