By Rasheed Sobowale
A four-year-old female Malayan tiger in a New York zoo has tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), this is the first time a feline of such kind will be reported with the coronavirus disease.
The tigress, Nadia, at the Bronx Zoo, New York was tested when several lions and tigers in the zoo started showing symptoms of respiratory illness.
In a statement by the USDA, the large cats were believed to have contracted the disease from a zoo employee “who was actively shedding virus”.
“This is the first instance of a tiger being infected with COVID-19. Samples from this tiger were taken and tested after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed symptoms of respiratory illness,” the department stated.
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The zoo as indicated in the USDA report has been closed to the public since mid-March, and the first tiger began showing signs of sickness on March 27.
“All of these large cats are expected to recover. There is no evidence that other animals in other areas of the zoo are showing symptoms.”
Vangaurd had earlier reported that scientists comments affirmed: “pet cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus on to humans but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they catch it from their owners”.
Also commenting on the case of Nadia, the USDA said; “At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread COVID-19 infection to people.”
Nadia is the only large cat tested among all of the feline reported to have been showing symptoms of respiratory illness in the zoo.
Clarifying why only Nadia was tested, the US Department elucidated; “Only one tiger was tested as the collection of diagnostic samples in big cats requires general anesthesia.
“Since all tigers and lions were exhibiting similar respiratory symptoms, the attending veterinarian felt it was in the best interest of the animals to limit the potential risks of general anesthesia to one tiger for diagnostics.”