In another first for the coronavirus pandemic, a tiger tested positive for the virus at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, according to The United States Department of Agriculture and Zoo authorities. The tiger is a 4-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia.
Along with Nadia, six other tigers and lions have also reportedly fallen ill. Paul Calle (Chief veterinarian for the Bronx Zoo) said that he and his team have witnessed such a case for the first time where a wild animal has got sick from coronavirus from a person. He added that she was exposed to an asymptomatic zookeeper carrying the virus. Seeing the rising case of the pandemic in New York, the zoo has been closed since March 16 to the people.
Several Pets Test Positive for COVID-19 as Owners Warned Not to Abandon Pets
In the past, numerous domestic animals have been found positive for SARS-CoV-2, a virus that leads to coronavirus, consisting of German Shepherd and Pomeranian in Hong Kong and a domestic cat in Belgium.
Now the question is, can the virus be transmitted to humans through pets? Dr. Ann Hohenhaus confirmed a possibility, but so far only from cats, she added that it requires further investigation. A new Chinese study has found that scientists are doing their best to find out what other species may be able to be infected by it.
Tiger Tests Positive for Coronavirus at Bronx Zoo, First Known Case
According to Mr. Paul, on April 2, Nadia was tested for the virus following a dry cough in late March. Nadia’s sister Azul along with two Siberian tigers and three African lions also exhibited loss of appetite and cough, though these cats were not tested for the virus.
Mr. Paul has said that there are seven cats under veterinary care and they may recover shortly. The Wildlife Conservation Society (a global NGO that runs the Bronx Zoo), in a press release, advised that how the disease may progress in animals is still uncertain.
The veterinary team saw Nazia showing the symptoms, owing to which they did a couple of diagnostic tests and blood work. Mr. Paul confirmed that considering the coronavirus outbreak in New York, they did COVID-19 testing.
Nadia was sedated and her samples were taken by the team at the zoo. For testing purposes, the team sent the samples to The New York State Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University and The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
According to The United States Department of Agriculture and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at this time there is no evidence that pets can spread the novel coronavirus to people. (According to the researchers bats are probably the reason for the virus as it is quite similar to bat coronavirus.)
COVID-19 (Coronavirus ) Drives New Threat to Survival of the Wild Animals
According to Mr. Paul, what they are experiencing is something new, therefore it is hard to say whether only the big cats are more vulnerable to this virus than other animals. He added that none of the other big cats including – a clouded leopard, snow leopards, cheetahs have shown any symptoms of the disease.
Seeing the case of Nadia the zookeepers, across the nation, have been making extra efforts to protect great apes as it is believed that apes can easily catch respiratory illnesses from humans. Experts have warned to be wary as the apes may be vulnerable particularly to COVID-19.
Mr. Paul informed that the diagnostic details will be shared both with the researchers and the zoo authorities. He also suspects that there might be other cases as well. Now that they have shared the details, soon other cases will turn up.
Mr. John Goodrich (Chief scientist and tiger program director at Panthera) is apprehensive about the tiger population across the globe. Currently, lions and tigers are already facing a constant threat to their survival in the wild.
He expressed his concern that in case COVID-19 jumps to the big cat populations and results in a significant cause of mortality, the virus could be a matter of serious concern for the future of such big cats.
Are Animals Responsible for COVID-19 in People?
The predominant route of transmission of COVID-19 is from human to human.
Current evidence suggests that the COVID-19 virus emerged from an animal source. Investigations are underway to find that source (including species involved) and establish the potential role of an animal reservoir in this disease. However, to date, there is not enough scientific evidence to identify the source or to explain the original Modes of transmission of the virus causing COVID-19 from an animal source to humans.
Genetic sequence data reveals that the COVID-19 virus is a close relative of other CoV found circulating in Rhinolophus bat (Horseshoe Bat) populations. There is the possibility that transmission to humans involved an intermediate host.
Priorities for research to investigate the animal source were discussed by the World Organisation for Animal Health informal advisory group on COVID-19, now the OIE ad hoc Group on COVID-19 and the human-animal Interface, and were presented at the WHO Global Research and Innovation Forum (11-12 February 2020) by the President of the OIE Wildlife Working Group.
World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom said the disease’s rapid spread was alarming.
You can track COVID-19 cases around you and everywhere in real-time with Corona Warriors. Avoid any ignorant behavior towards the pandemic. If you have COVID 19 symptoms, make sure you see your physician right away.
Source – https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/04/tiger-coronavirus-covid19-positive-test-bronx-zoo/