The Asian small-clawed otters at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta have been found positive for COVID-19. The news was announced by the Aquarium on Sunday stating that they tested the animals as they showed “mild respiratory symptoms including sneezing, runny noses, mild lethargy, and coughing.”
Seven otters at the aquarium were found infected, who are being cared for off-exhibit. The creatures are suspected to have transmitted the virus through an employee of the aquarium, who had covid but was asymptomatic. The aquarium wrote on social media, “Despite following all recommended health and safety protocols, it is suspected the otters may have acquired the infection from an asymptomatic staff member.”
However, the otters haven’t infected any human being as they were never in the direct contact with the guests and were separated by acrylic barriers. According to the aquarium, the otters’ health is improving and a full recovery is expected. The Georgia Aquarium also stated, “The otters will continue to be monitored and once they are no longer positive for COVID-19, it will then be determined when they will go back on exhibit,”
The Vice President of animal and environmental health at Georgia Aquarium, Dr. Tonya Clauss said, “Our Asian small-clawed otters are under very close monitoring by veterinarians and animal care team members. We are providing supportive care as needed so they can eat, rest and recover.”
The cases of animals being infected by the coronavirus is uncommon. However, this is not the first time that an animal has been reported to be infected. Last year in December, two Snow Leopard at the Louisville Zoo were tested positive for Covid. However, according to CDC, all kinds of animals globally have caught the virus from humans. CDC said, “It is suspected that these animals became sick after being exposed to an animal caretaker with covid-19. In many situations, this happened despite the staff wearing personal protective equipment and following COVID-19 precautions.”
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