Alarm as three African lions test positive for COVID-19

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Lions at the Antelop park nature reserve in Zimbabwe.Three African lions have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Bronx Zoo in New York. PHOTO COURTESY

Three African lions are the latest cats to test positive for Coronavirus more than two weeks since a Malaysian tiger dubbed Nadia tested positive for the virus at the New York’s Bronx Zoo.

The lions tested positive on alongside four tigers in the zoo according to a statement released by Paul Calle, the chief veterinarian for the zoo.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society which runs the zoo, additional tests were done on the cats using fecal samples and they did not have to sedate the cats.

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The zoo which has been closed from visitors since mid-march said that the eight cats probably contracted the virus from an infected zookeeper who was not exhibiting symptoms.

The eight cats had been isolated after exhibiting symptoms which included dry coughs and loss of appetite.

The cases at the zoo are the first cases of wild cats contracting the virus.

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

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

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According to the World Health Organization, 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.

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