According to what is known so far, cases of transmission of COVID-19 from humans to animals, especially in cats and dogs, but also to other animals such as mink and others mustelids have been identified. However, new and unprecedented cases of inter-species transmission of the virus have just been declared by officials at the San Diego zoo, namely gorillas tested positive for COVID-19.
According to officials at the San Diego Zoo, at least two gorillas have contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And aside from a little lung congestion and coughs, these primates seem to be doing well. However, it is not known at this time whether they will develop a serious reaction to the infection.
In order to limit health risks, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has closed its doors to visitors since last December.
COVID-19 in gorillas, an unprecedented case, but not surprising
According to recent information , only two gorillas that have started coughing have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Infections confirmed after analysis of fecal samples by veterinary laboratories of the Department of Agriculture.
In addition, a third gorilla is also showing symptoms of the disease. And it's quite possible that other members of the group, which numbers eight gorillas, were also infected with the virus. This remains to be determined with the tests currently underway.
According to the results of the investigation carried out, these gorillas could have been infected by an asymptomatic park employee, but tested positive for the virus, despite the application of health measures including wearing a mask.
These unprecedented cases are therefore the first cases of natural transmission of the virus in great apes. Namely that the gorilla shares up to 98% of their DNA with us. Which makes it vulnerable to human diseases, including COVID-19.
COVID-19 could be formidable in primates
With what has just been confirmed in San Diego, it is now known that humans can transmit the virus to gorillas. According to African specialists, a gorilla infected with SARS-CoV-2 could become as seriously ill as humans, if not more, although for the moment, the consequences in these large primates remain unknown .
For information, the individuals of the contaminated group belong to a subspecies of the western plains gorilla. A critically endangered species, which has seen its population decline by more than 60% over the past 20 years.
The San Diego Zoo says it will make its contribution to establishing measures to protect wild gorillas in the forests of Africa, by sharing the knowledge gained with health authorities and scientists in these cases of recently reported transmissions.