WAV Comment – we have heard that possibly 7 animals – lions and tigers have been infected. Not confirmed – Regards Mark
A four-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The tiger, named Nadia, is believed to be the first known case of an animal infected with Covid-19 in the US.
The Bronx Zoo, in New York City, says the test result was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.
Nadia, along with six other big cats, is thought to have been infected by an asymptomatic zoo keeper.
The cats started showing symptoms, including a dry cough, late last month after exposure to the employee, who has not been identified.
“This is the first time that any of us know of anywhere in the world that a person infected the animal and the animal got sick,” Paul Calle, the chief veterinarian at the zoo, told Reuters news agency on Sunday.
There have been isolated instances of pets testing positive for the coronavirus elsewhere in the world, but experts have stressed there is no evidence they can become sick or spread the disease.
Mr Calle said he intends to share the findings with other zoos and institutions researching the transmission of Covid-19.
“We tested the cat [Nadia] 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,” the zoo said in a statement.
Nadia, her sister Azul, as well as two Amur tigers and three African lions who showed symptoms, are all expected to make a full recovery, the zoo said.
The big cats did have some decrease in appetite but “are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers”, it said.
The zoo said it is not known how the virus will develop in animals like tigers and lions since various species can react differently to new infections, but all the animals will be closely monitored.
None of the zoo’s other big cats are showing any signs of illness. All the tigers showing symptoms were housed in the zoo’s Tiger Mountain area. It is unclear if the others will be tested.
All four zoos run by the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City, including the Bronx Zoo, have been closed to the public since 16 March. New measures will now be put in place to protect the animals and their caretakers at all the facilities.
- Calls to protect great apes from coronavirus
- Shenzhen becomes first Chinese city to ban eating cats and dogs
- Coronavirus: Five things you need to know
What do we know about animals and the virus?
This coronavirus was first detected in humans in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
The coronavirus (called Sars-CoV-2, which causes the disease Covid-19) is thought to have originated in wildlife and been passed to humans via a live animal market in Wuhan.
The pandemic has been driven by human-to-human transmission, but the infection of Nadia raises new questions about human-to-animal transmission.
There have been less than a handful of isolated reports of companion animals testing positive for coronavirus, including two dogs in Hong Kong.
There is “no evidence that any person has been infected with Covid-19 in the US by animals, including by pet dogs or cats,” the zoo’s statement noted.
That is also the view of the World Organisation for Animal Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), which says there is no evidence that pet dogs or cats can pass on the coronavirus.
The World Organisation for Animal Health says studies are under way to understand the issue more. and urges anyone who has become sick to limit contact with pets.
Dr Sarah Caddy, Veterinarian and Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, is among experts to respond to the reports.
“It is surprising that the tiger has become infected with what must have been a fairly low dose of virus – we can assume the tiger did not have continual close contact with the asymptomatic zoo keeper,” she said about the transmission.
“It is also interesting that the tiger showed clinical signs consistent with Covid-19 in humans. Although scientific proof is lacking, the chance this is just a coincidence is low.”
Conservation experts have warned that the virus could pose a threat to some wildlife like the great apes – and have said measures are needed to reduce the risk of wild gorillas, chimps and orangutans.
A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus
By Alaa Elassar, CNN
(CNN)Nadia, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York, has become the first of her kind to test positive for the coronavirus.
The 4-year-old female Malayan tiger tested positive after developing a dry cough and is expected to recover, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo said in a news release.
Samples from Nadia were taken and tested after the tiger — and five other tigers and lions at the zoo — began showing symptoms of respiratory illness, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). No other animals at the zoo are showing symptoms.
“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,” the zoo said.
“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 Covid-19 testing that was performed on Nadia was performed in a veterinary school laboratory and is not the same test used for people, Dr. Paul Calle, the zoo’s chief veterinarian, posted on Facebook.
The animals were infected by a zoo employee who was “asymptomatically infected with the virus” while caring for them, according to the zoo. The Bronx Zoo has been closed to the public since March 16.
Anyone sick with the coronavirus is being advised to minimize contact with animals, including pets, until more information is known about the virus, the USDA said.
CNN’s Aaron Cooper and Sarah Jorgensen contributed to this report.