SINGAPORE – None of the animals at Singapore’s zoo or wildlife parks has been vaccinated against Covid-19 and there are presently no plans to achieve this, mentioned the Mandai Wildlife Group.
Responding to queries from The Straits Times, it mentioned on Tuesday (Nov 9) night that extra understanding of the protection and efficacy of vaccination for animals is required.
“We are checking in with our international zoo counterparts who’ve began trialling vaccinations for a few of their high-profile animals,” it added.
This comes after 4 Asiatic lions at the Night Safari examined constructive for Covid-19 final Saturday.
The 4 lions, together with one African lion at the Singapore Zoo, exhibited delicate indicators of Covid-19, together with coughing, sneezing and lethargy. Test outcomes for the African lion are pending.
Dr Sonja Luz, vice-president of conservation, analysis and veterinary at Mandai Wildlife Group, mentioned on Tuesday that the Asiatic lion exhibit alongside the tram route at the Night Safari has been closed since Sunday, whereas the African lions exhibit at the Singapore Zoo has been closed since Tuesday.
Since September, 48 animals at the Oakland Zoo in California, together with lions, bears and ferrets, have been inoculated with an experimental vaccine for animals by veterinary pharmaceutical firm Zoetis.
In January, apes residing within the San Diego Zoo have been inoculated with the identical vaccine after a Covid-19 cluster was detected amongst a troop of gorillas residing there.
In March, Russia registered a Covid-19 vaccine for animals, with exams exhibiting that the jab may generate antibodies against the virus in canine, cats, foxes and minks.
Known as Carnivac-Cov, the vaccine was mentioned to give you the option to shield weak species and thwart viral mutations.
Dr Luz mentioned the lions stay “vibrant, alert and are consuming properly”. She famous there may be proof exhibiting that animals typically don’t fall significantly sick from the virus.
“We anticipate that the lions will make full restoration with minor supportive therapy. However, anti-inflammatory (medicine) and antibiotics could also be prescribed if additional therapy is required,” she added.
“The animal care groups are protecting a detailed watch on all higher-risk species, together with primates and carnivores, below their care. No different animals throughout the 4 wildlife parks presently current medical indicators of the virus.”
Professor Dale Fisher, a senior guide at the National University Hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases, mentioned that if an animal has shut publicity with people and has the identical ACE2 receptor as people on its respiratory lining, it could additionally get contaminated.
The Sars-Cov-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, binds with the ACE2 receptor to infect host cells. He famous that this occurred generally in minks and resulted in hundreds of thousands being culled.
Professor Wang Linfa from the Duke-NUS Emerging Infectious Diseases programme mentioned ACE2 is a “extremely conserved protein amongst totally different mammals”.
He famous that greater than 10 mammals, aside from people, have been contaminated by the virus.
Prof Fisher added that pets that have been contaminated by people typically solely had delicate illness, and getting contaminated doesn’t pose a significant risk to the animals, or create a significant supply of unfold.
“The animals are extra like harmless bystanders and the transmission chain typically stops,” he mentioned.
Prof Wang mentioned whereas people can infect their pets, resembling cats and canine, the virus doesn’t replicate effectively in them. Hence the chance for contaminated pets passing the virus to different people stays low.
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there may be presently no proof exhibiting that animals play a job in spreading the virus to people.
Therefore, the chance of people contracting the Sars-CoV-2 virus from animals could be very low.
Prof Fisher mentioned that whereas it’s doable for the virus to unfold from animals to people, it’s typically not widespread.
“We assume the entire pandemic began with a spillover occasion – that’s an animal someway contaminated an individual and after this preliminary seeding, human-to-human transmission took off,” he added.
Therefore, animal-to-human transmission may seed a small cluster, however it’s not the primary driver of transmission, which is human to human, mentioned Prof Fisher.
Dr Luz added that for the reason that onset of Covid-19 in 2020, security measures have been put in place to scale back the probability of asymptomatic animal carers passing the illness to prone species.
Current precautions being taken embody requiring employees to wash their palms earlier than and after interacting with any animal, donning face masks and gloves when working carefully with an animal, in addition to minimising or avoiding direct contact with these animals until required.
The nice apes, resembling orangutans and chimpanzees, will proceed to bear temperature checks twice a day as a part of added preventive measures.
Animal care employees will probably be required to do antigen speedy testing weekly to scale back the probability of asymptomatic transmission from human to animal.