Program testing Arizona wildlife, zoo animals for COVID-19

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 9:04 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A new program is working with state and local wildlife officials to test wild animals for coronavirus.

TGen — also known as the Translational Genomics Research Institute — says it has started testing animals in captivity and out in the wild for the virus that causes COVID-19. Crews are working with zoo vets, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct routine monitoring.

Officials say that as of Monday, there have been no positive cases of COVID. TGen adds that there isn’t much evidence that animals can easily spread COVID to humans so far. Still, they say surveillance is important to help monitor for future outbreaks and check on the spread of other zoonotic diseases.

Wild mammals such as elk, skunks, coyotes, bobcats, deer, javelinas, and mountain lions are being tested alongside mammals often held in captivity, like lions, bears, elephants, goats, and macaques. Health experts say that there is no solid evidence that birds, reptiles, and other animals can catch COVID.