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J Zoo Wildl Med ; 51(4): 733-744, 2021 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1041161


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.

COVID-19/veterinary , Feces/virology , Lions/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Tigers/virology , Animals , Animals, Zoo , Bacterial Proteins/genetics , Bacterial Proteins/isolation & purification , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , DNA-Binding Proteins/genetics , DNA-Binding Proteins/isolation & purification , New York City/epidemiology , Transcription Factors/genetics , Transcription Factors/isolation & purification
mBio ; 11(5)2020 10 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-868276


Despite numerous barriers to transmission, zoonoses are the major cause of emerging infectious diseases in humans. Among these, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and ebolaviruses have killed thousands; the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has killed millions. Zoonoses and human-to-animal cross-species transmission are driven by human actions and have important management, conservation, and public health implications. The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which presumably originated from an animal reservoir, has killed more than half a million people around the world and cases continue to rise. In March 2020, New York City was a global epicenter for SARS-CoV-2 infections. During this time, four tigers and three lions at the Bronx Zoo, NY, developed mild, abnormal respiratory signs. We detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA in respiratory secretions and/or feces from all seven animals, live virus in three, and colocalized viral RNA with cellular damage in one. We produced nine whole SARS-CoV-2 genomes from the animals and keepers and identified different SARS-CoV-2 genotypes in the tigers and lions. Epidemiologic and genomic data indicated human-to-tiger transmission. These were the first confirmed cases of natural SARS-CoV-2 animal infections in the United States and the first in nondomestic species in the world. We highlight disease transmission at a nontraditional interface and provide information that contributes to understanding SARS-CoV-2 transmission across species.IMPORTANCE The human-animal-environment interface of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an important aspect of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that requires robust One Health-based investigations. Despite this, few reports describe natural infections in animals or directly link them to human infections using genomic data. In the present study, we describe the first cases of natural SARS-CoV-2 infection in tigers and lions in the United States and provide epidemiological and genetic evidence for human-to-animal transmission of the virus. Our data show that tigers and lions were infected with different genotypes of SARS-CoV-2, indicating two independent transmission events to the animals. Importantly, infected animals shed infectious virus in respiratory secretions and feces. A better understanding of the susceptibility of animal species to SARS-CoV-2 may help to elucidate transmission mechanisms and identify potential reservoirs and sources of infection that are important in both animal and human health.

Animals, Zoo/virology , Betacoronavirus/physiology , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Coronavirus Infections/veterinary , Pandemics/veterinary , Panthera/virology , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Pneumonia, Viral/veterinary , Animals , Betacoronavirus/classification , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Haplotypes , Humans , New York City/epidemiology , One Health , Phylogeny , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Zoonoses/epidemiology , Zoonoses/transmission , Zoonoses/virology