A 12-year-old Asiatic lion, Pathmanathan, has died from Covid-19 in Arignar Anna Zoological Park, popularly known as Vandalur Zoo, outside Chennai on Wednesday morning, a statement from the zoo authority said. This is the second coronavirus-related death reported from the zoo after nine-year-old lioness Neela, who succumbed to the infection on June 3.
Pathbanathan, who was housed in the safari area, passed away at 10:15 am as per the official release by the zoo.
“The samples of the said lion had tested Positive for SARS-CoV-2 as per the report of National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal communicated on the 3rd June 2021. The lion was under intensive treatment since then,” the press release said.
A couple of days ago, the park officials said three lions infected with the virus were responding slowly to treatment and efforts were on to help them recuperate.
A majority of genome sequences from human cases had clear phylogenetic relationships to sequences recovered from mink samples. Sequences from humans and mink from the same mink farms clustered closely together, suggesting within-farm human-to-mink and/or mink-to-human transmission. In sequences from two human samples from one of the negative mink farms the mutation Y453F, considered as an adaptation to mink, was observed.
“Between mid-October and mid-November, the National Veterinary Institute received 74 submissions of between 3–5 dead mink, representing between 1 and 4 submissions per farm. Thirteen farms gave positive results for SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids using qRT-PCR. All positive farms were located in Sölvesborg, the County of Blekinge, in the south-eastern part of the country. None of the positive farms had reported increased morbidity or mortality before testing positive but, retrospectively, a slight increase in daily mortalities could be observed in the records from several of the farms.
All sequences from mink belonged to sub-lineage B1.1.39, a sub-lineage only seen once in Sweden before the outbreak. From the serological screening, 24 samples per farm were received from 26 out of the 28 mink farms that remained after the pelting. Specific SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in the vast majority of samples from 23 farms, including in all farms that previously had been tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids. In the remaining three farms, all samples tested negative.
A total of 100 persons have been registered in the program, but due to the seasonal mode of work, and changes in the workforce, the number of participants has varied. The 317 samples that have been taken and analysed for ongoing viral infection within the surveillance program have resulted in 8 positive persons. In addition to samples from these persons another 14 samples from mink farmworkers that was tested positive before the surveillance was launched were collected. All 22 samples were whole-genome sequenced (WGS). In the serological survey, 78 persons participated, among whom 27 tested positive.
The resulting sequences from WGS were analysed using pangolin. Generally, two main groups were seen, one representing sequences with a pangolin classification similar to that of sequences recovered from WGS of samples from minks (B.1.1.39) and the second group representing sequences with a pangolin classification identical to those circulating in Sweden at the time. The sequences were further analysed by aligning them towards the reference sequence NC_045512. A phylogenetic tree was calculated, and the subtree representing sequences with the pangolin classification B.1.1.39 was studied separately as new sequences were added.
A majority of sequences from human cases had clear phylogenetic relationships to sequences recovered from mink samples. Sequences from humans and mink from the same mink farms clustered closely together, suggesting within-farm human-to-mink and/or mink-to-human transmission. In sequences from two human samples from one of the negative mink farms the mutation Y453F, considered as an adaptation to mink, was observed.”
From: Mink-associated infections with SARS-CoV-2 –
** Update ** Mink farming was suspended for 2021 in Sweden, but on the basis of this report, mink farming should be banned entirely, not just in Sweden, but internationally. Mink farms risk becoming major reservoirs of Sars-CoV-2 capable of spilling back into the human population. The advantages of mink farming do not remotely outweigh the risks.
In Galicia this week another mink farm has been temporarily closed down by the authorities following an outbreak of Covid-19 at the establishment. The American mink farm concerned is located in Carral in the province of A Coruña and the regional Department of the Environment reports that the outbreak has been reported to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Food.
The presence of coronavirus has been detected in five mink, all of them asymptomatic, and the samples will now be analysed to establish which strain of SARS-CoV-2 is involved.
There are currently 25 registered mink farms in Galicia with a total of 71,479 reproducing females, and this is the fourth registered Covid-19 outbreak among them over the last 15 months. Anti-mink farming groups have again demanded the immediate closure of all such establishments in the light of the most recent findings, citing over 400 similar instances since the start of the pandemic in 12 countries, 10 of them in Europe.
Peter Daszak/Zheng-Li Shi/Ecohealth: “In this study, we performed serological surveillance on people who live in close proximity to caves where bats that carry diverse SARSr-CoVs roost. In October 2015, we collected serum samples from 218 residents in four villages in Jinning County, Yunnan province, China, located 1.1–6.0 km from two caves (Yanzi and Shitou). We conducted a virus neutralization test for the six positive samples targeting two SARSr-CoVs, WIV1 and WIV16. None of them were able to neutralize either virus. These sera also failed to react by Western blot with any of the recombinant RBD proteins from SARS-CoV or the three bat SARSr-CoVs Rp3, WIV1, and SHC014.”
Ning Wang, Shi-Yue Li, Xing-Lou Yang, Hui-Min Huang, Yu-Ji Zhang, Hua Guo, Chu-Ming Luo, Maureen Miller, Guangjian Zhu, Aleksei A. Chmura, Emily Hagan, Ji-Hua Zhou, Yun-Zhi Zhang, Lin-Fa Wang, Peter Daszak, Zheng-Li Shi
Zhengli & Daszak study, September 2019 – “We conducted a cross-sectional study in the districts of Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guangdong, China… Serological testing of serum samples from 1,497 local residents revealed that 9 individuals (0.6%) in four study sites were positive for bat coronaviruses, indicating exposure at some point in their life to bat-borne SARSr-CoVs (n=7, Yunnan), HKU10-CoV (n=2, Guangxi), or other coronaviruses that are phylogenetically closely related to these.
Zhengli Shi, Peter Daszak, Hongying Li, Emma Mendelsohn, Chen Zong, Wei Zhang, Emily Hagan, Ning Wang, Shiyue Li, Hong Yan, Huimin Huang, Guangjian Zhu, Noam Ross, Aleksei Chmura, Philip Terry, Mark Fielder, Maureen Miller
India, October 2019, Zhengli Shi et al: “We present evidence for prior exposure of bat harvesters and two resident fruit bat species to filovirus surface glycoproteins… Our results indicate circulation of several filoviruses in bats and the possibility for filovirus transmission from bats to humans.
… Shi’s a busy lady…
Two female lions at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in people. Both lions were displaying clinical signs of occasional coughing and diarrhea but were otherwise normal. However, positive cases at other zoos prompted the veterinary team to test all six animals out of an abundance of caution, even though four of the lions were reportedly healthy. The Pittsburgh Zoo has been closely following CDC guidelines and have been in close contact with experts who have been monitoring and testing for this disease.
Stubbley and Osceola, the Virginia Zoo’s two Malayan tigers have tested positive for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) upon preliminary testing. Confirmatory testing is currently underway. The Animal Care Team first observed mild respiratory symptoms including a dry cough and wheezing in the tigers last week which were consistent with previous cases of COVID-19 in big cats diagnosed with the virus at other zoological institutions. Because of this, both the tigers were tested out of an abundance of caution. Our third tiger, Christopher, has since developed mild respiratory symptoms and samples from him are being submitted for diagnostics.
Although, there is no indication at this time that humans are at risk of catching this disease from big cats all three tigers are currently off exhibit. The Zoo’s tiger exhibit is also significantly distanced from visitor pathways. The closest contact a visitor could have to the animal is more than 40 feet. The close viewing areas of the tigers, such as their pool or cave, are completely enclosed by glass and rock work. The Zoo is confident that there would be no opportunity to transmit the virus from the tigers to a visitor.
CDC: “Investigations found that mink from a Michigan farm and a small number of people were infected with SARS-CoV-2 that contained unique mink-related mutations (changes in the virus’s genetic material). This suggests mink to human spread might have occurred. The animals on the farm have since tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 twice, and the infected people have since recovered.
Finding these mutations in mink on the Michigan farm is not unexpected because they have been seen before in mink from farms in the Netherlands and Denmark and also in people linked to mink farms worldwide. Currently there is limited information available about the genetics of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has infected people living in the communities near the mink farm. Thus, it is difficult to know with certainty whether the mink-related virus mutations originated in people or in mink on the farm.
To confirm the spread of SARS-CoV-2 from mink to people, public health officials would need more information on the epidemiology and genetics of the virus in mink, mink farm workers, and the community around mink farms. These results highlight the importance of routinely studying the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 in susceptible animal populations like mink, as well as in people.
CDC is aware of reports of a strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus in mink in Denmark that was also present in the local human population. This strain, called “Cluster 5,” had not been seen before and was made up of five mutations. The World Health Organization (WHO)external icon reported that as of November 2020, the Cluster 5 variant was no longer circulating in Denmark. Of mink and human samples tested so far in the United States, none have contained all the mutations that make up the Cluster 5 strain.”
CDC: COVID-19 and Animals, Mar. 25, 2021
In more mink related coronavirus news, Oregon is to require all mink to be vaccinated against sars-cov-2 , Russia has produced its own vaccine for animals and Greece is trying to keep mink infections down with testing and vaccines for workers
Image By Dzīvnieku brīvība – Baltic Devon Mink 05, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87445681