COVID-19: Alarm as Tiger in New York Zoo tests positive

A Malasian tiger in a national park in India.A tiger at the Bronx zoo has tested positive for Coronavirus making it the first case of a non-domesticated animal testing positive PHOTO COURTESY

A tiger at the Bronx zoo in New York has tested positive for Coronavirus making it the first case of a non-domesticated animal testing positive.

The tiger dubbed Nadia tested positive weeks after it developed a dry cough and lost her appetite.

This is according to Paul Calle, the chief veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo who spoke to reporters on Sunday saying that the Malayan tiger had probably gotten the virus from a sick zookeeper since the zoo was closed to members of the public on 16th March.

“It is the first time that a wild animal has gotten sick from COVID-19 from a person,” Calle said.

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Domesticated animals including a German shepherd in Hongkong and a domestic cat in Belgium have previously tested positive for Coronavirus.

However, Calle said that there were fears that the tiger could have infected other animals in the Zoo with the virus after six big cats in the developed Coronavirus symptoms.

The six who include Nadia’s sister, two Siberian Tigers and three African lions have been having persistent coughs and appetite loss though they have not been tested for Coronavirus.

Though the seven cats have since been placed under veterinary care, the Wildlife Conservation Society which runs the Zoo warned scientists have not yet established how the disease will progress in the cats.

The Centre for Disease Control, however, believes that captive wild animals cannot spread the virus to people.

The virus which has already been declared a pandemic has so far claimed more than 70,000 people and infected more than 1.2million people.

According to the World Health Organization have the disease which originated in a seafood market in Wuhan can be linked to a virus prevalent in bats.

“Increasing evidence demonstrates the link between the 2019-nCoV and other similar known coronaviruses (CoV) circulating in bats, and more specifically those of the Rhinolophus bat sub-species. These sub-species are abundant and widely present in Southern China, and across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Recent studies indicate that more than 500 CoVs have been identified in bats in China.” WHO said in a report in February at the height of the outbreak in Wuhan.