COVID-19 infections spread through gorillas at Atlanta zoo

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FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, file photo, a silverback mountain gorilla named Segasira walks in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Conservationists are worried about the coronavirus spreading among wild great apes, but aren’t currently planning a vaccination campaign. Instead, they are going to extreme measures to ensure that human trackers and researchers visiting the animals aren’t spreading disease. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta’s zoo says at least 13 western lowland gorillas have tested positive for COVID-19, including 60-year-old Ozzie, the oldest male gorilla in captivity.

Zoo Atlanta said Friday that employees noticed the gorillas had been coughing, had runny noses and showed changes in appetite.

A veterinary lab at the University of Georgia returned positive tests for the respiratory illness.

Zoo Atlanta says it’s waiting on confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Lab in Iowa.

The zoo says it is treating the gorillas at risk of complications with monoclonal antibodies. Zoo officials say they believe an asymptomatic employee passed on the virus. The employee had been fully vaccinated and was wearing protective equipment.

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