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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