Social media has been awashed with posts of a Tiger in U.S that was tested positive for coronavirus right after a cat in U.K died of COVID-19 but here we break down the truth behind this story.
Yes it is true, this big cat is the first non-domesticated animal to test positive for coronavirus in the United States and is one of seven big cats at the Bronx Zoo with coronavirus symptoms.
The female tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a statement released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a nonprofit organization that oversees the Bronx Zoo. The positive test was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
“Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding [the] virus”, according to a statement from the USDA. Coronavirus infections result from person-to-person transmission," experts say.
“Our cats were infected by a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms”, according to zoo officials.
Nadia, a four-year-old Malayan tiger, was tested for coronavirus on 2 April after developing a dry cough and a decreased appetite on 27 March. Nadia’s sister, Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions also developed a dry cough and loss of appetite but have not been tested for coronavirus.
“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”, The WCS statement said.
The seven big cats are expected to fully recover.
“We tested the cat [Nadia] out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about Covid-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus”, the zoo said in a statement on Sunday.
Nadia was anaesthetized to undergo X-rays, an ultrasound and blood tests to diagnose what was ailing her. Considering the large surge in human cases in New York City, it was decided to also test Nadia for Covid-19, since she was already sedated. Samples were sent to the New York State Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University and to the USDA-APHIS veterinary lab in Ames, Iowa. The coronavirus test is not the same test designed for people, so there was no competition for a test with a potentially sick person.
Nadia is the first animal to test positive for coronavirus in the USA, but there are reports that several pets have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including a Pomeranian and a German shepherd in Hong Kong, and a domestic cat in Belgium.