Natural infection of three captive Malayan tigers (Panthera tigris jacksoni) with SARS-CoV-2 caused mild to moderate symptoms of lethargy, anorexia, and coughing. Each tiger was longitudinally sampled opportunistically via consciously obtained oral, nasal, and/or fecal samples during and after resolution of clinical signs, until 2 wk of negative results were obtained. Persistent shedding of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material was detected via reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction in feces up to 29 d after initial onset of clinical signs, but not in nasal or oral samples. Tigers became resistant to behavioral training to obtain nasal samples but tolerated longitudinal oral sampling. Serum was obtained from two tigers, and antibody titers revealed a robust antibody response within 9 d of onset of clinical signs, which was sustained for at least 3 mon. The tigers were infected despite the use of masks and gloves by husbandry personnel. No known cause of the outbreak was identified, despite extensive investigational efforts by the regional health department. No forward cross-species transmission was observed in primates housed in nearby enclosures. The increasing regularity of reports of SARS-CoV-2 infection in nondomestic felids warrants further investigations into shedding and immunity.
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16 December 2021
DURATION OF ANTIGEN SHEDDING AND DEVELOPMENT OF ANTIBODY TITERS IN MALAYAN TIGERS (PANTHERA TIGRIS JACKSONI) NATURALLY INFECTED WITH SARS-CoV-2
Andrew C. Cushing,
Heather N. Grome,
Wendy B. Puryear,