According to a recent investigation, a rabies-infected anteater at a Tennessee zoo may have exposed more than a dozen individuals to the deadly infection.
The report was published on Thursday, April 14. According to the report, this was the first time rabies have been reported in this species. Furthermore, the anteater in question had recently been transferred from a zoo in Virginia. It was afflicted with a kind of rabies not commonly seen in Tennessee. Which implies that the animal had contracted the virus prior to the transfer.
It has become a first case of ‘rabies translocation’ from one place to another through the movement of captive animals.
The case started in early May 2021, when the anteater was moved from the Virginia zoo to a zoo in Washington County, Tennessee. Where it was confined with another anteater.
The transferred anteater began to show signs of disease in late June 2021, including lethargy, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.
Veterinarians initially suspected a bacterial infection in the anteater and prescribed medications. Also, the animal had no bites, which can spread rabies. Therefore, they dismissed it as a case of rabies. However, later when the symptoms worsened it was diagnosed as a case of rabies.
Further testing found that the anteater was infected with a rabies virus strain previously only observed in raccoons in the eastern United States, particularly those in Virginia. Which as per the experts indicated that the anteater contracted the virus at the Virginia zoo.
Later on, the Virginia zoo was warned about rabid raccoons on their grounds, and the zoo verified that local species, including racoons had been sighted inside the zoo’s fencing boundary. The authorities said that “This case also highlights the importance of continued public health efforts to expand awareness and education about rabies prevention and control.”