Gorillas that reside at a Georgia zoo tested positive in COVID-19 after being diagnosed with a runny nose. The new case of COVID-19 on animals was recorded in Zoo Atlanta. Based on the recent updates, the habitat experts detected nasal discharge and coughing expressed by the gorillas. This caused the giant apes to had their bodies weaken and their appetites disturbed. The incident was unusual, but the zoo's veterinary experts did not hesitate to examine the gorillas. Part of the tests was to gather fecal samples and nasal and oral swabs to determine the cause of the apes' condition.
Zoo Atlanta's Gorilla Troop
University of Georgia's Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory conducted the examination. The test results were quickly processed and released, but unfortunately, it showed that the gorillas were 'presumptively positive' of the SARS-CoV-2.
Zoo Atlanta stated that another test would be conducted with the gorillas' case. The follow-up confirmatory examinations will be performed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, located in Iowa.
The gorillas are currently being treated with monoclonal antibodies to boost their resistance against the coronavirus and activate their immunoresponse. In addition, the zoo gathered additional samples from the remaining gorillas on the premises to ensure that all of the massive apes were safe from underlying symptoms.
The total headcount of gorillas in the Zoo Atlanta is 20, divided into four different troops. According to Science Alert, all of the gorillas were decided by the habitat experts to be tested for coronavirus, regardless of if they have symptoms or not.
Based on the recent statement by Zoo Atlanta, they are summing that all of the members included in the four troops are exposed to the undetected coronavirus to ensure the safety of each of the gorillas. The animals are now being observed for potential symptoms until the new test results from Iowa return.
COVID-19 Infection in Animals Even Under Strict Health Protocols
Zoo Atlanta does not have any clues to lead to where the transmission of the COVID-19 originated. One strong theory from the veterinary experts is that the gorillas were contracted by a person, possibly a care team member, who was unaware of being infected despite having a full dosage of the vaccine and wearing equipment according to health protocols.
Zoo Atlanta's animal health expert Sam Rivera said that the COVID-19 cases were deeply concerning to them, considering that safety protocols were implemented with every animal care, including the supervision of great apes. In addition, the zoo informed that they were strict regarding health guidance since the pandemic surge, especially with treating species that are considered susceptible.
Every care team of the zoo also wore masks and gloves. Moreover, the conservation officials mandated that in addition to the basic protections, suits and specialized apparatus were equipped to the care personnel when deployed in contact with the animals or even for habitat maintenance purposes.
In a report by The Charlotte Observer, Zoo Atlanta said they had been approved to utilize the Zoetis vaccine---a safe and effective treatment for animals against the coronavirus. They announced that among the animals that will be vaccinated are their African lions, Sumatran tigers, Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, as well as the clouded leopard. The gorilla troop members will also be given the vaccine once they recover from the COVID-19 infection.
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