In a first, a zoo lion transmits COVID-19 to its keepers

For the first time, scientists believe a zoo animal transmitted COVID-19 to a human. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

A lion infected with SARS-CoV-2 at an Indiana zoo likely transmitted the virus to at least two of the keepers caring for the big cat, a new study has found. This is the first confirmed case of an infected zoo animal transmitting the coronavirus to a human, researchers say. However, such transmission is likely rare, and in this case likely resulted from the lion having to be hand-fed, the scientists wrote in the study.

It has long been known that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can infect many species and can pass between humans and animals. The virus likely jumped from an animal to a human in the first place, and previous studies have suggested that pet cats and dogs catch SARS-CoV-2 from owners at extremely high rates. Other studies have shown that deer transmitted the virus to humansand infected hamsters at a Hong Kong pet store triggered a human outbreak of the delta variant.

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