A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for coronavirus, the U.S. Federal animals and zoos said Sunday that an animal or anywhere in the area is believed to be the first known infection in the tiger.
Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger – and six other tigers and lions – has also been infected with a zoo employee who has not yet been diagnosed.
The first animal began to show signs on March 27, at the zoo, which seems to be recovering, has been closed to the public since March 16 amid a growing coronavirus outbreak in New York.
The test result stunned zoo officials: “I can’t believe it,” said director Jim Breheny. He hopes the discovery will contribute to the global fight against the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Knowing how this is transmitted, how different species react to it, that knowledge is somehow going to provide people with a lot of resources,” he said in an interview.
The findings raise new questions about the spread of the virus in animals. In its veterinary laboratory, there are no cases of the virus in pets or livestock. Department of Agriculture.
“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that the animals are spreading the virus to people or that they may be a source of infection in the United States,” Dr. Jane Rooney, a veterinarian and USDA official, said in an interview.
The USDA said Sunday that it does not recommend routine coronavirus testing of animals, zoos or elsewhere, or zoo employees.
Nevertheless, the US is funded by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories. Rooney said he tested a small number of animals, and all of those tests were negative, except for Nadia.
Experts say that coronavirus outbreaks worldwide are driven by person-to-person transmission.
There have been some reports outside the US that pet dogs or cats have become infected after having close contact with infections, including a Hong Kong dog that tested positive for low levels of pathogens in February and early March.
Hong Kong agricultural officials have confirmed that pet dogs and cats cannot transmit the virus to humans, but can test the positive if their owners are exposed.
Some researchers are trying to understand the sensitivity of various animal species to the virus and how it spreads in animals, says the World Health Organization, an animal health organization based in Paris.
The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with great caution, recommend that individuals with coronavirus limit contact with animals – the veterinary team reiterated after learning of the tiger’s test result.
In general, the CDC also advises that animals should be washed after handling, pets and other things to keep their homes clean.
At the Bronx Zoo, Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions developed dry cough, and some cats exhibited some shortness of breath and appetite, said the zoo’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Paul Kale.
Staff noted that there may be a relatively general explanation for the cats’ symptoms, but Nadia was tested for “coronavirus” from “adequate care and utmost care,” Breheny said.
Nadia has only been tested because it takes anesthesia to get a sample from the big cat, and she has already been knocked out for testing.
Seven sick cats live in two areas of the zoo, and the animal is in contact with a single worker, who is doing okay, zoo officials said.
They said there were no signs of illness among the other older children on the property.
Staff working with cats now wear an infection-protection garb, as primate keepers have done for years because animals have close genetic links with humans, Breheny said.
For most people, the coronavirus can cause mild or mild symptoms, such as fever and coughing, in two to three weeks.
For some people, especially the elderly and people, it can lead to more serious illnesses including pneumonia and can be fatal.
All of this is completely new, says Calle, so there are many unanswered questions, including whether tigers and lions are more susceptible to coronavirus than other animals.
The zoo’s other big cats, including leopards, leopards, cloud leopard, Amur leopard and puma, do not show any symptoms.
Since great apes can easily catch respiratory infections from humans, zookeepers across the country are making extra efforts to protect the great apes in their care. Experts warn that they are particularly susceptible to coronavirus infection.
Calle said the Bronx Zoo team will share the diagnostic information with the zoo and the scientific community more broadly. “I suspect there are other cases, and now we are sharing this information”.