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A Western Lowland Gorilla, an endangered animal species, sits in an exhibit at the San Francisco Zoo in 2007. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Thirteen western lowland gorillas at Zoo Atlanta are receiving treatment for COVID-19 after initial tests came back positive, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported.

Why it matters: Zoo Atlanta confirmed in a statement on Friday that "a number" of its 20 gorillas had tested presumptively positive, and that the zoo believes they were infected by a fully vaccinated team member.

  • The team member was wearing PPE and was asymptomatic that day, the statement added.

State of play: The gorillas were tested for the virus after they exhibited classic symptoms, including coughing, runny noses, and minor changes in appetite, the statement said.

  • Oral and fecal samples were sent to the University of Georgia's Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which came back with 13 presumptive positive results.
  • The zoo is now awaiting confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, which also received samples.
  • Gorillas that are at risk of developing complications are being treated with monoclonal antibodies, the statement added.
  • All 20 of the gorillas will be tested regularly regardless of symptoms, the zoo added.

Once they recover, the gorillas — as well as the zoo's Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, Sumatran tigers, African lions, and clouded leopard — will receive the Zoetis coronavirus vaccine developed for animals.

What they're saying: “The teams are very closely monitoring the affected gorillas and are hopeful they will make a complete recovery,” Sam Rivera, senior director of animal health at the zoo, said in the statement.

  • “They are receiving the best possible care, and we are prepared to provide additional supportive care should it become necessary," Rivera said.

The big picture: Other zoos around the country have also begun to vaccinate some of their charges.

  • On Aug. 30, the Detroit Zoo announced it had begun vaccinations, starting with its Gorillas, chimpanzees, tigers and lions.
  • The Oakland Zoo began vaccinating its animals in July.
  • In February, great apes at the San Diego Zoo became the first animals in the country to be inoculated against the virus, per National Geographic.
  • Zoetis plans to send 11,000 doses of the animal vaccine to more than 80 institutions around the country for free, according to National Geographic.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
Dec 20, 2021 - Health

D.C. reinstates indoor mask mandate as COVID cases surge

Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency on Monday and announced a number of new policies aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, including the reinstatement of the city's indoor mask mandate and a booster requirement for D.C. government employees.

Driving the news: The recent case surge comes amid the rise of the Omicron variant and as COVID tests are harder to find—all while many D.C.-area residents prepare to gather with family and friends for the holiday season.

Dec 21, 2021 - Health

WHO and EU clear Novavax, adding another option to vaccine arsenal

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The WHO and EU have now cleared Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, adding another shot to the global arsenal.

Why it matters: The biggest impact will likely be in the developing world as the American company has promised over 1 billion doses to the WHO-backed COVAX initiative. The vaccine can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures and proved highly effective in clinical trials.