A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Nadia, a four-year-old female Malayan tiger, is believed to be the first known case of an animal infected by a human with Covid-19. Its test result was later on confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.
“This is the first tie any of us know anywhere in the world that a person infected the animal and the animal got sick,” Paul Calle, chief veterinarian at the zoo, told Reuters news agency on Sunday.
It is thought that an asymtomatic zoo keeper may have infected Nadia, along with six other big cats last month, who started showing symptoms including dry cough.
“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.
They added that Nadia, her sister Azul, and two Amur tigers and three African lions who showed symptoms, are expected to make full recovery.
All the tigers were housed in the zoo’s Tiger Mountain area. None of the other big cats – four tigers, snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma and a serval – are showing signs of the illness.
The zoo stated that it is still not known how the virus will develop in the animals, but they are closely monitoring all of them and all are cared for.
Other coronavirus cases among animals have been reported in Hong Kong, where a dog had tested positive for a low level of the disease.
The pandemic started in a live animal market in Wuhan, China and has been driven by human-to-human transmission, but the new case of Nadia raises more questions to experts.
The World Health Organization says there is no evidence that pet dogs or cats can pass the coronavirus, but experts warned the virus may pose a threat to some wildlife.
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