Detection of SARS-CoV-2 clade B.1.2 in three snow leopards

Leyi Wang, Zoltan S Gyimesi, Mary Lea Killian, Mia Torchetti, Colleen Olmstead, Richard Fredrickson, Karen A Terio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is one of seven coronaviruses known to infect humans. Different from other concerned coronavirus and influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2 has a higher basic reproduction number and thus transmits more efficiently among hosts. Testing animals for SARS-CoV-2 may help decipher virus reservoirs, transmission and pathogenesis. Here, we report the first detection of SARS-CoV-2 in three snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in a zoo in Kentucky in 2020, the first year of the pandemic. Sequence analysis revealed that snow leopard SARS-CoV-2 strains were non-variant B.1.2 lineage and closely correlated with human strains. One snow leopard shed SARS-CoV-2 in faeces up to 4 weeks. Based on clinical signs and viral shedding periods and levels in the three snow leopards, animal-to-animal transmission events could not be excluded. Further testing of SARS-CoV-2 in animals is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e3346-e3351
JournalTransboundary and Emerging Diseases
Issue number5
Early online dateJun 13 2022
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Panthera uncia
  • viral shedding
  • detection
  • snow leopard

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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