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12 January 2021 SARS-COV-2 INFECTION AND LONGITUDINAL FECAL SCREENING IN MALAYAN TIGERS (PANTHERA TIGRIS JACKSONI), AMUR TIGERS (PANTHERA TIGRIS ALTAICA ), AND AFRICAN LIONS (PANTHERA LEO KRUGERI) AT THE BRONX ZOO, NEW YORK, USA
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Abstract

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged as the cause of a global pandemic in 2019–2020. In March 2020, New York City became the epicenter in the United States for the pandemic. On 27 March 2020, a Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) at the Bronx Zoo in New York City developed a cough and wheezing with subsequent inappetence. Over the next week, an additional Malayan tiger and two Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) in the same building and three lions (Panthera leo krugeri) in a separate building also became ill. The index case was anesthetized for diagnostic workup. Physical examination and bloodwork results were unremarkable. Thoracic radiography and ultrasonography revealed a bronchial pattern with peribronchial cuffing and mild lung consolidation with alveolar-interstitial syndrome, respectively. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was identified by real-time, reverse transcriptase PCR (rRT-PCR) on oropharyngeal and nasal swabs and tracheal wash fluid. Cytologic examination of tracheal wash fluid revealed necrosis, and viral RNA was detected in necrotic cells by in situ hybridization, confirming virus-associated tissue damage. SARS-CoV-2 was isolated from the tracheal wash fluid of the index case, as well as the feces from one Amur tiger and one lion. Fecal viral RNA shedding was confirmed in all seven clinical cases and an asymptomatic Amur tiger. Respiratory signs abated within 1–5 days for most animals, although they persisted intermittently for 16 days in the index case. Fecal RNA shedding persisted for as long as 35 days beyond cessation of respiratory signs. This case series describes the clinical presentation, diagnostic evaluation, and management of tigers and lions infected with SARS-CoV-2 and describes the duration of viral RNA fecal shedding in these cases. This report documents the first known natural transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to nondomestic felids.

Copyright 2020 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
Susan L. Bartlett, Diego G. Diel, Leyi Wang, Stephanie Zec, Melissa Laverack, Mathias Martins, Leonardo Cardia Caserta, Mary Lea Killian, Karen Terio, Colleen Olmstead, Martha A. Delaney, Tracy Stokol, Marina Ivančić, Melinda Jenkins-Moore, Karen Ingerman, Taryn Teegan, Colleen McCann, Patrick Thomas, Denise McAloose, John M. Sykes, and Paul P. Calle "SARS-COV-2 INFECTION AND LONGITUDINAL FECAL SCREENING IN MALAYAN TIGERS (PANTHERA TIGRIS JACKSONI), AMUR TIGERS (PANTHERA TIGRIS ALTAICA ), AND AFRICAN LIONS (PANTHERA LEO KRUGERI) AT THE BRONX ZOO, NEW YORK, USA," Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 51(4), 733-744, (12 January 2021). https://doi.org/10.1638/2020-0171
Accepted: 29 September 2020; Published: 12 January 2021
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