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A tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19

A female Malayan tiger.

A tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19

A four-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia has tested positive for COVID-19.

A tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19

A tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19. 

The 4-year-old Malyan tiger called Nadia reportedly suffered from a dry cough prior to being tested. In a statement, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo said that Nadia was tested “out of an abundance of caution.” 

The confirmed diagnosis is thought to be the first case of COVID-19 involving an animal in the United States. It is also believed to be the first case of COVID-19 in a tiger. 

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, there are seven animals including Nadia that are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms – three other tigers including Nadia’s sister Azul and three lions.

“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,” reads the statement issued by the Wildlife Conservation Society.  “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.”

Ambulances go inside of the Bronx Zoo as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 5, 2020. Image: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The four tigers that are currently showing symptoms live in the zoo’s Tiger Mountain exhibit. Amur, a male tiger that also lives at Tiger Mountain, has not exhibited any symptoms nor have the tigers within the zoo’s Wild Asia exhibit.

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s four zoos and aquarium have been closed due to COVID-19 since 16 March.  

While there have been a very small number of pets that have become infected by COVID-19 around the globe, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health says that predominant route of transmission of COVID-19 is from human to human.

“Now that COVID-19 virus infections are widely distributed in the human population there is a possibility for some animals to become infected through close contact with infected humans,” says World Organisation for Animal Health.

“Several dogs and cats have tested positive to COVID-19 virus following close contact with infected humans.  Studies are underway to better understand the susceptibility of different animal species to the COVID-19 virus and to assess infection dynamics in susceptible animal species.”

According to the organisation, there is there is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19.

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