Gorillas, corona infected… Will the virus be transmitted to humans?

[사진=Nuno Valadas/게티이미지뱅크]
At least 18 out of 20 gorillas living at the Atlanta Zoo in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19.

The zoo said that by the 14th (local time), 18 gorillas had tested positive for the corona virus.

The gorillas at the zoo have recently exhibited symptoms such as coughing, runny nose, and changes in appetite. The zoo found this strange and conducted a COVID-19 test through the University of Georgia Veterinary Research Institute, which confirmed that the gorillas were infected with the coronavirus.

At least four samples taken from gorillas were found to be infected with the delta mutation.

Currently, the zoo is conducting monoclonal antibody treatment for gorillas who are at risk of complications from viral infection, and plans to vaccinate them in the future.

So, how did the gorillas staying in the zoo get infected with Corona? The zoo suspects that the virus may have been passed on to the gorillas through zoo staff who were asymptomatic.

However, it is said that the employee suspected of having transmitted the virus has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and is usually wearing protective equipment such as a mask and gloves.

Could Gorillas Conversely Transmit COVID-19 Virus to Humans? There is no scientific basis for this yet. However, when animals are infected with COVID-19, the symptoms are very weak, so the amount of virus excretion is not much. Therefore, it is analyzed that the possibility of infection from animals to humans is low.

The Atlanta Zoo believes that physical distance is unlikely to cause infection, even if it is assumed that the virus can be transmitted from gorillas to humans because gorillas maintain sufficient distance from visitors.

Currently, gorillas infected with COVID-19 are not in isolation. There are four groups of gorillas living at the Atlanta Zoo, and the zoo explains that it is impossible to isolate only the infected gorillas from the gorillas.

Meanwhile, in January, eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo in the United States were infected with Corona 19 and recovered through treatment. At the time, this was the first case of COVID-19 in a primate, but this time another cluster infection occurred in gorillas.

In addition to gorillas, animals such as dogs, cats, minks, lions and tigers have also been infected with Corona 19. However, compared to humans, animal infections are extremely rare.

However, considering the repeated occurrence of gorilla cluster infections in zoos, primates are likely to be infected with COVID-19. Therefore, people who travel to wild environments where many primates live or who have a lot of contact with primates by profession, such as zookeepers, will need to be more careful.

By Moon Se-young, staff reporter [email protected]

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