On January 6, two of the gorillas began coughing. So, the San Diego Zoo Global initiated the process of testing fecal samples from the gorillas and five days later, it tested positive.
It has so far not been confirmed if the coronavirus pandemic began from a bat, as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are also not sure how it affects other animals but recently, a gorilla exhibit at a zoo had to be shut down as some of the animals tested positive for the virus.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park said in a statement that members of the Gorilla Troop there "have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19." The interesting part is that the animals have symptoms similar to humans. "On Wednesday, January 6, two of the gorillas began coughing. Given current circumstances, San Diego Zoo Global initiated the process of testing fecal samples from the gorillas for SARS-CoV-2 through the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CA HFS). On January 8, the preliminary tests detected the presence of the virus in the gorilla troop. The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed the positive results on Monday, January 11. The test results confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in some of the gorillas and does not definitively rule out the presence of the virus in other members of the troop," they said.
It is believed that the animals were infected by an asymptomatic staff member, as per CNN. This is the first known case in the great apes, the zoo said. However, prior research has revealed that some non-human primates can get infected. The gorillas in San Diego live together as a family, and it's possible that all of them were exposed, zoo officials say.
"Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well," said Lisa Peterson, executive director, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, in a press release. "The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery."
It is not known if the great apes will have any serious reaction to the virus. The zoo's spokesperson added that they followed all protocols including wearing PPE near the apes. "For almost one year our team members have been working tirelessly, with the utmost determination to protect each other and the wildlife in our care from this highly contagious virus," said Peterson. “The safety of our staff and the wildlife in our care remains our number one priority." The San Diego Zoo has been closed since early December, as per CNN.
As of January 11, California had 4,971 patients in the ICU due to the virus. The death toll reached 30,000 in the state the same day, according to Associated Press. The rate of infection is going up quickly in the state with more than a quarter-million cases a week. Los Angeles County has become one of the epicenters and residents have been told to wear a mask even at home if they live with senior adults or others in the high-risk category.
Two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for COVID-19 and are showing mild symptoms. Park officials suspect the apes contracted the virus from an asymptomatic worker.https://t.co/kOWoWOeACy— NPR (@NPR) January 12, 2021
"The damaging impact to our families and local hospitals from this surge is the worst disaster our county has experienced for decades,” health director Barbara Ferrer said.