A 5-year-old female snow leopard named NeeCee from Louisville Zoo in Kentucky has been diagnosed with COVID19. It is the first confirmed case of COVID19 infection in the snow leopards. The authority at the zoo has declared the positive results of the animal recently. They have said that they are waiting for the test results of two more male snow leopards as well. For the first time, an animal has been tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a zoo. Louisville Zoo is the first zoo, which has tested its animals for COVID19. The director of Louisville Zoo, John Walczak has said that all the snow leopards are suffering from mild symptoms of the disease; however, animals are being given enough care. He has said that snow leopards are expected to recover soon and no other animals are having any symptoms as of now.
Senior staff veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi has said that it seems NeeCee has been infected by an asymptomatic staff member. All the snow leopards have started showing symptoms such as dry cough and wheeze within the last two weeks. He has said that though COVID19 is a human-to-human transmission infection, however, at times it dribbles over into animals as well. Therefore, animals normally are infected with the virus while being in close proximity to an infected human being. Considering the gravity of the situation, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Department of Public Health has allowed COVID19 testing for animals. The fecal samples of all three animals have been sent to the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at the University of Illinois. Later a PCR test has been done on all the animals. The Zoo has been taking all necessary measures since the pandemic has hit the country. Staff members who might be prone to the disease have been wearing personal protective equipment while taking care of the animals at the zoo. They have been undergoing regular temperature checks as well.
The authority at the zoo has said that they will continue to follow all the precautions to keep their animals and guests safe. The officials have not kept snow leopards on exhibition since NeeCee is recovering and the test results of two more animals are yet to come. Dr. Zoli Gyimesi has said that animals are not feeling sluggish and they are having their regular meals. As per the report, the zoo is going to remain operational throughout the winter with all precautionary measures in place. He has said that it is very unlikely for an animal to spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans.