Zoo Atlanta is treating 13 western lowland gorillas who have tested positive for COVID-19. The gorillas were tested after they demonstrated mild coughing, runny noses and loss of appetite. Atlanta’s animal handlers took faecal samples and nasal and oral swabs from the gorillas and sent the samples to the Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Georgia, which returned a presumptive positive result. Atlanta is waiting for confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, which also received samples.
The zoo says it is treating the gorillas at risk of developing complications from SARS-CoV-2 with monoclonal antibodies. The zoo is also testing all 20 of its gorillas, who live in four troops.
Zoo officials say they believe an asymptomatic employee who cares for the gorillas passed on the virus. The employee had been fully vaccinated and was wearing protective equipment such as a mask and gloves.