Monitoring Natural SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Lions (Panthera leo) at the Barcelona Zoo: Viral Dynamics and Host Responses
To date, no evidence supports the fact that animals play a role in the epidemiology of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the coronavirus infectious disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, several animal species are naturally susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Besides pets (cats, dogs, Syrian hamsters, and ferrets) and farm animals (minks), different zoo animal species have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (large felids and non-human primates). After the summer of 2020, a second wave of SARS-CoV-2 infection occurred in Barcelona (Spain), reaching a peak of positive cases in November. During that period, four lions (Panthera leo) at the Barcelona Zoo and three caretakers developed respiratory signs and tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 antigen. Lion infection was monitored for several weeks and nasal, fecal, saliva, and blood samples were taken at different time-points. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in nasal samples from all studied lions and the viral RNA was detected up to two weeks after the initial viral positive test in three out of four animals. The SARS-CoV-2 genome was also detected in the feces of animals at different times. Virus isolation was successful only from respiratory samples of two lions at an early time-point. The four animals developed neutralizing antibodies after the infection that were detectable four months after the initial diagnosis. The partial SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence from one animal caretaker was identical to the sequences obtained from lions. Chronology of the events, the viral dynamics, and the genomic data support human-to-lion transmission as the origin of infection.
619 - Veterinària
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Fernández-Bellon, Hugo, Jordi Rodon, Leira Fernández-Bastit, Vanessa Almagro, Pilar Padilla-Solé, Cristina Lorca-Oró, Rosa Valle, Núria Roca, Santina Grazioli, Tiziana Trogu, Albert Bensaid, Jorge Carrillo, Nuria Izquierdo-Useros, Julià Blanco, Mariona Parera, Marc Noguera-Julián, Bonaventura Clotet, Ana Moreno, Joaquim Segalés, and Júlia Vergara-Alert. 2021. "Monitoring Natural SARS-Cov-2 Infection In Lions (Panthera Leo) At The Barcelona Zoo: Viral Dynamics And Host Responses". Viruses 13 (9): 1683. doi:10.3390/v13091683.
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