Otters at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The aquarium said Sunday on Facebook that its Asian small-clawed otters began experiencing “mild respiratory symptoms,” including coughs, runny noses, sneezing and “mild lethargy.”
“Despite following all recommended health and safety protocols, it is suspected the otters may have acquired the infection from an asymptomatic staff member,” the aquarium wrote.
The otters were taken out of their exhibit, and experts are caring for them “behind the scenes,” the aquarium says.
“We’re happy to report they are doing well and expected to make a full recovery,” it wrote.
The otters do not have direct contact with visitors at the aquarium, the post reads, and the risk of humans contracting COVID-19 from animals is extremely low.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no evidence that animals play a “significant role” in spreading the virus to people but that “it appears” the virus can spread from humans to animals in some cases, especially when in close contact.
“People with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals, including pets, livestock and wildlife,” the CDC says.
The agency says it doesn’t yet know all of the animals that can contract COVID-19 but that “companion animals like cats and dogs, big cats in zoos or sanctuaries, gorillas in zoos, mink on farms, and a few other mammals” can become infected.
“There have been reports of animals infected with the virus worldwide. Most of these animals became infected after contact with people with COVID-19,” the CDC says.