An entire group of small-clawed otters at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta has tested positive for COVID-19, likely contracting the disease from an asymptomatic staff member.
The otters were tested after they began to show mild respiratory symptoms, including sneezing, runny noses, mild lethargy and coughing, the aquarium said on Sunday.
The animals, all considered “geriatric,” are likely to fully recover, the aquarium said.
“Despite following all recommended health and safety protocols, it is suspected the otters may have acquired the infection from an asymptomatic staff member,” the aquarium said.
The facility’s small-clawed otters “have displayed only mild symptoms and we expect them all to make a full recovery,” Dr. Tonya Clauss, the aquarium’s vice president of animal and environmental health, said in a statement. “We are providing supportive care as needed so they can eat, rest and recover.”
None of the sick otters have had direct contact with guests, who are separated from the animals by an acrylic barrier, the aquarium said. Staff members who work with the animals have all been tested. The aquarium didn’t reveal the test results.
A number of other species have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Upwards of 10,000 minks in Utah have died as a result of the disease, which has also been detected in dogs, cats, lions, tigers and gorillas.
Some whales may also be susceptible to the virus, though a definitive answer requires more research.
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