Tiger Tests Positive for COVID-19 in New York Zoo

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

The USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories has confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans) in one tiger, a USDA release said on Sunday. This is the first instance of a tiger being infected with COVID-19.

The tiger, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger named Nadia, developed a dry cough and a decrease in appetite, WABC-TV7 reports.

Samples were taken from this tiger after several lions and tigers began to show symptoms of respiratory illness. The cats became sick after being exposed to an employee at the zoo who was actively shedding virus.

The zoo has been closed since March 16 and there is no evidence that other animals in other areas of the zoo are showing symptoms, USDA reports. 

USDA and CDC are monitoring this situation closely. State animal and public health officials will take the lead in determining whether animals, either at this zoo or in other areas, should be tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

USDA plans to notify the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of this finding. 

“This is an evolving situation; however, routine testing of zoo or personal animals is not recommended at this time,” USDA said in the release. “Public and animal health officials may decide to test certain animals that are showing signs of illness and that are known to have been exposed to the virus.”

If you have concerns about your animal’s health, contact your veterinary clinic. Make sure to tell your veterinarian if your animal was exposed to a person sick with COVID-19 and if your animal is showing any signs of illness. 

There is no evidence that this virus is affecting animals at any other facilities in the U.S. However, anyone sick with COVID-19 should restrict contact with animals, including pets, during their illness, just as they would with other people, USDA said in the release.

In addition, USDA noted at this time there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread COVID-19 infection to people.

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