Nine big cats at the Smithsonian National Zoo have presumably tested positive for COVID-19.
The Washington, DC Zoo announced on Friday that six African lions, one Sumatran tiger and two Amur tigers may have contracted the disease and experienced decreased appetite, coughing, sneezing and sneezing. lethargy.
Fecal samples from the lions and tigers were collected and tested presumably positive, with final results expected in the coming days. Animal keepers treat cats with anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea medications as well as antibiotics for suspected secondary bacterial pneumonia.
Animals are supervised and do not need to stay indoors, although staff manage the cats’ access to their outdoor habitats. The zoo said the public was not in danger due to the “substantial distance” between the animals and visitors.
No other animal in the zoo shows signs of infection, the zoo said.
The zoo said it requires the use of personal protective equipment, employee health self-screens and cleaning for those accessing animal areas as part of its COVID-19 security measures.
The zoo investigated all staff in close contact with the lions and tigers and found no evidence to identify the source of the infection. Although the infection could have been spread by an asymptomatic person, the zoo said all animal care staff should mask themselves indoors in all public and non-public areas.
The US Department of Agriculture has approved a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, specially designed for zoo animals. The zoo said vaccines will be administered to susceptible species at the zoo and the Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia when they become available in the coming months.