WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Atlanta’s The Georgia Aquarium announced in a Facebook post on Sunday that its Asian small-clawed otters tested positive for the coronavirus.
- The otters were reportedly showing “mild respiratory symptoms including sneezing, runny noses, mild lethargy, and coughing.”
- The aquarium suspects the otters contracted the virus from an asymptomatic staff member.
The Georgia Aquarium announced in a Facebook post that a number of their otters have tested positive for COVID-19.
“They began exhibiting mild respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, runny noses, mild lethargy, and some began coughing,” the aquarium wrote on Sunday. It did not mention how many otters had tested positive.
The post also said that all of the otters “are doing well” and “expected to make a full recovery.” The aquarium noted that they don’t exclude the fact that the geriatric animals may have “long-term health issues.”
Dr. Tonya Clauss, vice president of animal and environmental health at Georgia Aquarium, said in a press release: “Our Asian small-clawed otters are under very close monitoring by veterinarians and animal care team members. They have displayed only mild symptoms and we expect them all to make a full recovery,. We are providing supportive care as needed so they can eat, rest and recover.”
Though they insist that they followed health and safety guidelines, they suspect that the animals may have gotten the infection from an asymptomatic staff member.
All the aquarium’s staff members who had in direct contact with the otters have been tested.
The facility noted that “the risk of animal-to-human transmission is incredibly rare” and that the otters “do not have direct contact with guests.”
Currently, the otters are getting good care from a team of experts. “The otters will continue to be monitored and once they are no longer positive for COVID-19, it will then be determined when they will go back on exhibit,” the aquarium said.
The CDC said that more information is still needed to “understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.”
According to a post on their website: “We know that companion animals like cats and dogs, big cats in zoos or sanctuaries, gorillas in zoos, mink on farms, and a few other mammals can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, but we don’t yet know all of the animals that can get infected.”
This is not the first time an animal has tested positive for Covid-19.
In December, three snow leopards at the Louisville Zoo tested positive for the virus. In Utah and Wisconsin, thousands of mink died at fur farms after being hit with a series of coronavirus outbreaks. Several domestic dogs and cats also have tested positive throughout the pandemic.