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TIGER TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS IN NEW-YORK ZOO

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A tiger at the Bronx Zoo, NewYork has tested positive for the new coronavirus (COVID19), in what is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the United States or a tiger anywhere, federal officials and the zoo said Sunday.

The 4-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia, and six other tigers and lions that have also fallen ill, are believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who wasn’t yet showing symptoms, the zoo said.

The first animal started showing symptoms March 27, and all are doing well and expected to recover, said the zoo, which has been closed to the public since March 16 amid the surging coronavirus outbreak in New York.

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“We tested the cat out of an abundance of caution” and aim to “contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus,” said Dr. Paul Calle, the zoo’s chief veterinarian.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which confirmed Nadia’s test result at its veterinary lab, says there are no known cases of the virus in U.S. pets or livestock.

“There doesn’t appear to be, at this time, any evidence that suggests that the animals can spread the virus to people or that they can be a source of the infection in the United States,” said Dr. Jane Rooney, a veterinarian and a USDA official.

The USDA said Sunday it’s not recommending routine coronavirus testing of animals, in zoos or elsewhere, or of zoo employees.

Rooney said a small number of animals in the U.S. have been tested through the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories, and all those tests came back negative except Nadia’s.

At the Bronx Zoo, Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions developed dry coughs, and some of the cats exhibited some wheezing and loss of appetite, Calle said.

“In a question of being thorough, we did want to specifically test” for the virus that causes COVID-19, he said. Only Nadia was tested because it takes anesthesia to get a sample from a big cat. Her temperature was taken at the same time, and it was normal, Calle said.

The seven sickened cats live in two areas at the zoo, and the animals had contact with the same worker, who is doing OK, zoo officials said. They said they are taking “appropriate preventive measures” for the staffers that care for the ailing animals, and there are no signs of illness in other big cats on the property.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as a fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and can be fatal.

Source: New York Times

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