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Current Affairs

Covid-19 in Gorillas

Date: 13 January 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Several gorillas have tested positive for COVID-19 at the San Diego Zoo in California, becoming the first captive primates to contract the infection in the US.

 

Background

While some gorillas at the zoo are showing mild symptoms, further studies are needed to understand the precise effects of the virus on the primates.

 

Details

  • It is likely that the gorillas contracted the infection from an asymptomatic staff member. They are expected to recover soon.

  • Since the COVID-19 outbreak began early last year, there have been several reports of animals contracting the infection. 

  • There are known instances of infection in domestic cats, lions, and tigers. The Denmark government culled its mink population to prevent spread of mutated strain from the animal to humans.

  • New virus strains are of concern as one of the mink-associated variants was thought to have moderately decreased sensitivity to neutralising antibodies.

  • Research has showed that felines are particularly susceptible to the virus because of their cellular structure.

  • Another research analysed the potential risk of infection in 410 species including fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

  • The research found that several primate species faced the highest risk of infection from SARS-CoV-2. Some of these primate species are critically endangered species including the Western lowland gorilla and the Sumatran orang-utan.

  • However, experimental infection studies have shown that poultry and cattle are not susceptible to infection.

 

Spread from humans to animals

  • While the virus was initially transmitted from an animal to a human, the current pandemic is being mainly sustained by human to human transmission of the virus.

  • While the virus can be transmitted from people to animals, the risk of the infection spreading from animals to humans is low.

  • A few pets including cats and dogs have been known to contract the virus, probably due to close contact with people who were COVID-19 positive.