A first: gorillas from a zoo positive for coronavirus and placed in quarantine (video)
This is the first known case of transmission in these animals.
“We have two gorillas from the San Diego Zoo who have tested positive for Covid-19” and a third who is showing symptoms, Governor Gavin Newsom said during a press conference on the pandemic. “We are in the process of confirming the source of the infection,” he said.
“Apart from a little congestion and cough, gorillas are doing well,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo, one of the largest wildlife parks in the world, in a statement. “The members of the (gorilla) group remain in quarantine all together and eat and drink. We are hopeful that they will make a full recovery.”
Studies have shown that some species of primates – like humans that fall into this category – can contract the virus responsible for Covid-19, “but this is the first known case of natural transmission to great apes and it is not known whether they will show a serious reaction, “the zoo statement said.
Humans and other primates have a very similar genome, with gorillas having about 98% of their DNA in common. In Africa, chimpanzees and gorillas have thus been decimated by the Ebola virus.
The San Diego Zoo is currently closed to the public due to the pandemic and its officials suspect that the gorillas were infected by “an asymptomatic employee” who nevertheless followed the precautionary measures recommended by the American health authorities and wore a mask when he was close to gorillas.
On January 6, two gorillas had started coughing, prompting the zoo to test them for the novel coronavirus from fecal samples. The presence of the virus was revealed two days later by preliminary tests, which were confirmed Monday by federal veterinary laboratories.