A Tiger At The Bronx Zoo Tests Positive For Coronavirus

A Tiger At The Bronx Zoo Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger, is the first known case of an animal testing positive for the coronavirus in the United States.

Image Source: Getty Images/Richard Clark (Representative)

A tiger residing at Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in New York has tested positive for COVID-19 which has infected over 1,270,000 people and claimed more than 69,000 lives globally. The 4-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia was tested by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory after she and five other cats and lions at the zoo developed a dry cough, revealed the WCS in a news release, according to  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Nadia is the first of her kind to test positive for the coronavirus in the United States, reports CNN. Meanwhile, apart from them, 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," assured the zoo. "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." According to the organization, PEOPLE reports, the animals were infected by a zoo employee who was "asymptomatically infected with the virus" while caring for the cats. 



"Appropriate preventive measures are now in place for all staff who are caring for them, and the other cats in our four WCS zoos, to prevent further exposure of any other of our zoo cats," they added. The zoo, which has been closed to the public since March 16, doesn't have any other animals showing the symptoms of the virus. "None of the zoo’s snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma or serval are showing any signs of illness." The first animal began showing symptoms on March 27 and currently, all of the remaining animals are expected to recover, said the zoo, according to ABC News



"I couldn't believe it," said director Jim Breheny who was shocked to see the results. However, he hopes that this finding could contribute to the understanding of what causes the novel coronavirus. "Any kind of knowledge that we get on how it’s transmitted, how different species react to it, that knowledge somehow is going to provide a greater base resource for people," he said during an interview. The latest case of virus transmission in animals raises many important questions. "There doesn’t appear to be, at this time, any evidence that suggests that the animals can spread the virus to people or that they can be a source of the infection in the United States," said veterinarian and USDA officer Dr. Jane Rooney during an interview. 



On Sunday, the USDA said it doesn't recommend routine coronavirus testing for animals in zoos or elsewhere. Although Rooney revealed that a small number of animals were tested and their reports came back negative except Nadia's. While the contagion is said to be transmitted from person to person, a handful of cases were reported outside the United States of pet dogs or cats becoming infected after coming in contact with a person infected with the virus. Two dogs in Hong Kong were infected with the virus in a likely case of human-to-animal transmission. "It is very likely that the two positive cases [in Hong Kong] are examples of human-to-dog transmission," said Professor Malik Peiris, a public health virologist at the University of Hong Kong at the time. 

However, a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said that there was no evidence that these pets could transmit the virus to humans, reported New York Post. On the other hand, animals could test positive for the virus if exposed to contagious owners. Thus, the USDA advised individuals, who are sick with the virus, to minimize contact with animals, including domestic pets until more information is known about the COVID-19.

Information about COVID-19 is swiftly changing, and McGill Media is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. Therefore, we encourage you to also regularly check online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

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