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Snow leopard at Louisville Zoo tests positive for COVID-19

NeeCee is the first known case of the virus in a snow leopard, according to the Zoo.
NeeCee is the first known case of the virus in a snow leopard, according to the Zoo.(The Louisville Zoo)
Updated: Dec. 11, 2020 at 10:58 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – A snow leopard at the Louisville Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19.

NeeCee, a 5-year-old snow leopard, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, according to the Louisville Zoo.

Zoo officials said they are waiting for results for the two male snow leopards, Kimti and Meru.

All three snow leopards have mild respiratory symptoms, including an occasional dry cough or wheeze, that started about two weeks ago. All three are expected to recover.

“Fortunately, based on clinical cases in large cats at other zoos in the country to this point, SARS-CoV-2 infection does not appear to be life-threatening,” senior staff veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi said. “We will be closely monitoring the snow leopards for ongoing symptoms and resampling them to identify when they have cleared the infection.”

Officials believe NeeCee contracted the virus from an asymptomatic employee.

According to the Louisville Zoo, transmission of the virus between animals and humans is low. Staff members who care for the snow leopards have started additional precautions that include enhanced PPE.

The Zoo initiated safety precautions at the beginning of the pandemic that remain in place.

The snow leopards will not be on exhibit while they recover.

NeeCee is the first known case of the virus in a snow leopard, according to the Zoo.

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