Chennai: Four Lions at Arignar Anna Zoological Park test positive for COVID-19’s Delta variant

Four lions of Vandalur Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Chennai found infected with the COVID-19’s Delta (B.1.617.2) variant, classified by WHO as a variant of concern (VOC) showing evidence of higher transmissibility and reduced neutralization.

The zoological park had sent samples of 11 lions for testing of SARS CoV-2 in May to the ICAR-National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, which undertakes research on exotic and emerging pathogens of animals in the country and is one of the four approved institutes for testing of captive animal samples for SARS-CoV-2.

The director of ICAR-NIHSAD informed, “Genome sequencing of four of the samples was done at NIHSAD, Bhopal. Analysis of the sequences shows that all four sequences belong to Pangolin lineage B.1.617.2 and are of the Delta variant as per WHO nomenclature.”

On June 4, a nine-year-old lioness named Neela died after showing symptoms of Covid-19. Pathmanathan, a 12-year-old lion, succumbed to the virus at the zoo on June 16.

The Vandalur zoo, which houses 13 lions, has been closed since the lockdown began in the state. It is still uncertain how the lions contracted the SARS COV-2 virus.

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