06th Apr 2020
A Malayan tiger at a New York zoo has tested positive for Covid-19 after contracting the virus from a caretaker
A four-year-old tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo has been diagnosed with Covid-19.
Nadia, a Malayan tiger, developed a dry cough along with her sister Azul and two other tigers in the institution. All of the tigers are expected to make a full recovery.
It is believed Nadia contracted the virus from a caretaker who was asymptomatic, meaning the person was a carrier of the virus but had no symptoms.
In a statement, the Wildlife Conservation Society said: “We tested the cat out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus.
“Though they have experienced some decrease in appetite, the cats at the Bronx Zoo are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers.
“It is not known how this disease will develop in big cats since different species can react differently to novel infections, but we will continue to monitor them closely and anticipate full recoveries.”
The zoo had been closed to the public since March 16, with New York now the epicenter of the virus.
Human to animal transmission
Chinese authorities identified animals sold at a Wuhan food market as the initial source of the virus but there is little evidence suggesting human to animal transmission across the globe.
The zoo statement also noted: “There is no evidence that any person has been infected with Covid-19 in the US by animals, including by pet dogs or cats.”
This view is also shared by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Nevertheless, this case will ultimately raise more questions about human to animal transmissions and vice versa.
Before this, a handful of cases in animals had been reported in Hong Kong including a dog who tested positive with a low level of the disease. While a pet cat was diagnosed with the virus in Belgium.
These animals are believed to have contracted the virus from their owners.
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