Nadia, a four-year-old female Malaysian tiger at the Bronx Zoo, tested positive for COVID-19. The test was carried out after Nadia and six other tigers and lions in the zoo began to show signs of respiratory disease. Unfortunately, Nadia's dry and irritating cough proved that the concern had been valid. It is likely that other tigers around Nadia are suffering from the same disease, but they haven't been tested yet.
Here we go! Until now, many of us have thought that the only positive thing about the spreading coronavirus pandemic is the fact that it doesn't target animals. So far, we saw no reason for excessive worries about the health of our pets or wild animals. However, this is likely to change after today's report, which came from New York.
The four-year-old Nadia, a tiger from a New York Zoo, tested positive for the coronavirus. The result of the test was confirmed by the National Veterinary Laboratory in Iowa. It seems to be the first case when the carrier wasn't animal, but a human. The animals were infected by a zoo employee who fell ill with the coronavirus.
"This is the first time that any of us knows that a human had infected an animal and that the animal subsequently became ill. I can't believe it,"
said Paul Calle, chief veterinarian.
Nadia, along with six other wild beasts at the zoo, displayed symptoms such as wheezing, irritating cough and decreased appetite. However, it is expected that Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions who have shown similar symptoms will recover fully over time. Whether other animals will be tested is not yet clear.
"It is unknown how this disease will develop in large cats, as different species may respond differently to new infections. But we will continue to monitor them closely and hope for their recovery,"
the zoo said in their statement.
In their statement, the Bronx Zoo also claimed that they intend to share their knowledge about the disease in tigers with other zoos and institutions. Employees who have been working in the zoo have to comply with stricter hygiene measures now.
This finding appears to raise new questions regarding the transmission of the virus in animals. The US Department of Agriculture, which confirmed the result of Nadia's test in a veterinary laboratory, said there were no known cases of the coronavirus in other domestic or farm animals. Time will show if Nadia and the other tigers are a unique case.