Do NJ pets need to be vaccinated against COVID mutations?
With COVID cases spiking again in New Jersey and around the nation, driven by the Delta variant, scientists are working on vaccines specifically designed for animals.
One version of the vaccine is already being shipped to zoos in the U.S. Of particular concern is possible infection of endangered apes, gorillas and other primates. Jungle cats are also potentially susceptible to COVID infection.
The first known case of an animal being infected in the United States was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo. At the San Diego Zoo, eight gorillas tested positive for COVID. The great apes have been known to be infected with human respiratory viruses, and some scientists fear COVID could further endanger their population.
At this point, it is unclear because there has only been limited study. There have been rare, sometimes anecdotal, evidence of COVID infection in dogs and cats in other countries. In the UK, a cat did test positive for the virus last July, but health officials there said it was a "very rare event."
COVID affects on animals
In the limited data that is available, infected animals appear to recover quickly with only mild symptoms.
There has been concern about transmission from a cat or dog to a human, but there have been no such documented cases.
In any of the documented cases, the transmission was from human to animal, and the CDC says pets play no significant role in spreading COVID to their owners.
COVID-19 vaccines at zoos
For now, animal vaccinations remain confined to zoos. Zoos in New York, Denver and Oakland were the first to begin inoculating their jungle cats and great apes.
Officials at the Cape May County Zoo have plans to administer injections to their cats and primates, but have not yet been able to secure vaccine doses.
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