Tiger at New York's Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19

Tiger at New York's Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, the first known case of a tiger being infected.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed this in a statement published on its official website on Sunday.

Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger, was tested by the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory after she - along with six other cats at the zoo, three tigers and three lions - developed a dry cough, the WCS said in a news release.

"There is no evidence that animals play a role in the transmission of COVID-19 to people other than the initial event in the Wuhan market, and no evidence that any person has been infected with COVID-19 in the USA by animals, including by pet dogs or cats", it said.

Intriguingly, despite being infected, none of the infected house cats showed symptoms of illness.

The cat contracted the disease from a zookeeper who "was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms".

The Bronx ZOO is now closed with NY in the grip of coronavirus.


All of the cats are expected to recover. They don't yet know how the virus develops or affects big cats. No other animals in the zoo are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, officials said.

Nadia is said to be well, though his appetite has decreased. While noting that there are now no reports of domestic pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it recommends that those with the illness limit their contact with animals until more is learned about the transmission of the virus.

With more than a million global coronavirus cases among humans, and the many, many people who have cats as pets, Terio says it's significant that the first clinical case confirmed in the US was a tiger, not a domestic cat.

Although there is "no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread COVID-19 infection to people" at this time, and that the "USDA and CDC do not recommend routine testing of animals for this virus", they do recommend that anyone who is sick with COVID-19 or suspects they might be sick "should restrict contact with animals, out of an abundance of caution, including pets, during their illness, just as they would with other people".

Should I get my animal tested for coronavirus?

Animal advocates and experts worry people may now flood the shelters and abandon their pets in fear of animals carrying the virus. The Covid-19 testing was performed on Nadia in a veterinary school laboratory and is not the same test used for people.

Earlier in the month, data collected in China's Wuhan revealed that COVID-19 had infected local cat populations during the outbreak.

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