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3 lions, 2 pumas contract COVID-19 in South African zoo

As asymptomatic zookeepers transmit virus, new research of University of Pretoria proposes assessing danger of new variants

Murat Ozgur Guvendik   | 19.01.2022
3 lions, 2 pumas contract COVID-19 in South African zoo


Three lions and two pumas were confirmed to be afflicted with the coronavirus, according to a recent study in South Africa.

Researchers from the University of Pretoria began investigating the lions and pumas at an unnamed private zoo in Johannesburg after the lions showed respiratory problems, runny noses, and a dry cough.

They discovered that COVID-19 was transmitted to the animals by zookeepers, some of whom were asymptomatic.

The research, titled SARS-CoV-2 Reverse Zoonoses to Pumas and Lions, South Africa, also revealed that all three lions were infected with the Delta variant, whereas one of the pumas was infected during the first wave of the pandemic but was not genetically analyzed.

"It is also equally important to assess the risk of subsequent transmission between animals and prolonged shedding that may give rise to new variants," it added.

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