SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Longitudinal Fecal Screening in Malayan Tigers (Panthera tigris jacksoni), Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), and African Lions (Panthera leo krugeri) at the Bronx Zoo, New York, USA

Susan L. Bartlett, Diego G. Diel, Leyi Wang, Stephanie Zec, Melissa Laverack, Mathias Martins, Leonardo Cardia Caserta, Mary Lea Killian, Karen Terio, Colleen Olmstead, Martha A. Delaney, Tracy Stokol, Marina Ivančić, Melinda Jenkins-Moore, Karen Ingerman, Taryn Teegan, Colleen McCann, Patrick Thomas, Denise McAloose, John M. SykesPaul P. Calle

Research output: Working paper


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged as the cause of a global pandemic in 2019-2020. In March 2020 New York City became the USA epicenter for the pandemic. On March 27, 2020 a Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) at the Bronx Zoo in New York City developed a cough and wheezing with subsequent inappetence. Over the next week, an additional Malayan tiger and two Amur tigers (P. t. altaica) in the same building and three lions (Panthera leo krugeri) in a separate building also became ill. The index case was immobilized, and physical examination and bloodwork results were unremarkable. Thoracic radiography and ultrasonography revealed peribronchial cuffing with bronchiectasis, and mild lung consolidation with alveolar-interstitial syndrome, respectively. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was identified by real-time, reverse transcriptase PCR (rRT-PCR) on oropharyngeal and nasal swabs and tracheal wash fluid. Cytologic examination of tracheal wash fluid revealed necrosis, and viral RNA was detected in necrotic cells by in situ hybridization, confirming virus-associated tissue damage. SARS-CoV-2 was isolated from the tracheal wash fluid of the index case, as well as the feces from one Amur tiger and one lion. Fecal viral RNA shedding was confirmed in all seven clinical cases and an asymptomatic Amur tiger. Respiratory signs abated within 1-5 days for most animals, though persisted intermittently for 16 days in the index case. Fecal RNA shedding persisted for as long as 35 days beyond cessation of respiratory signs. This case series describes the clinical presentation, diagnostic evaluation, and management of tigers and lions infected with SARS-CoV-2, and describes the duration of viral RNA fecal shedding in these cases. This report documents the first known natural transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to animals in the USA, and is the first report of SARS-CoV-2 in non-domestic felids.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Number of pages35
StateIn preparation - Aug 14 2020

Publication series

PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press


  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
  • Novel coronavirus
  • 2019-nCoV
  • Pandemic

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