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More Animals Get Infected as New COVID-19 Variants Arise

Human-to-animal transmissions are becoming even more rampant.

During the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, people and health experts initially thought that the novel coronavirus only infected humans. But as the months progressed, it was found that even animals can contract the deadly coronavirus.

In Hong Kong, there were reports that a Pomeranian had a “low level of infection,” prompting the government to warn pet owners not to kiss their dogs in the meantime. (Read: New COVID-19 Variants: Here’s What You Need to Know)

At around the same time, a second dog, a German Shepherd at that, was also said to have contracted COVID-19. The dog’s owner was a COVID-19 patient in quarantine at the time, and a virologist said that the case was most likely one of human-to-animal transmission.

Animal Infection in New York

Animals tested positive for COVID-19
Five tigers and three lions in Bronx Zoo have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. (Photo from Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis / Getty Images / National Geographic Society)

It wasn’t just in Asia that animals were getting the coronavirus. The first instance in the United States was seen back in April when a four-year-old tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for COVID-19.

After a few weeks, more big cats got infected or were showing symptoms of the disease, specifically four tigers and three lions. (Read: How Effective is China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 Vaccine?)

Paul Calle, the chief veterinarian at the zoo, says the only possible reason for the infection is that a zookeeper who was asymptomatic had close contact with the big cats, thus infecting them. Luckily, the zoo later on announced that its big cats are already recovering from COVID-19.

California Detects COVID-19 in Gorillas

Members of a gorilla troop have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (Photo from San Diego Zoo Safari Park Facebook)

Just yesterday, months after the tigers in New York have fully recovered from COVID-19, news broke that at least two gorillas in San Diego Zoo tested positive for the coronavirus. The news came after a surge of COVID-19 cases in California.

As of writing, three gorillas are showing symptoms of the coronavirus— and because these animals live in families, it is assumed that all of them were exposed. Authorities believe that the great apes were infected by asymptomatic zoo staff as well. (Read: Asymptomatic Patients Carry Same Amount of Virus as Symptomatic Individuals, Study Claims)

“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well. The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery,” said Lisa Peterson, San Diego Zoo Safari Park executive director.

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