NEW YORK A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for a new coronavirus, which is considered the first known infection in an animal in the United States or a tiger anywhere.
“As far as we know, the first time a wild animal got sick from human COVID-19,” says Paul Calle, chief veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo.
A Malay tiger named Nadia was probably infected with a coronavirus from an infected, but an unknown, zoo.
— Bronx Zoo (@BronxZoo) March 31, 2020
Sister Nadia, two Siberian tigers and three African lions also had a cough and loss of appetite, although they were not examined, the USDA announced Sunday afternoon.
The first animal started showing symptoms on March 27 and everything is expected to heal, said a representative from the zoo, which has been closed to visitors since March 16.
“We thoroughly tested the cat” and strived to “contribute to our continued understanding of the world of this new coronavirus,” said Dr. Paul Calle, the zoo’s chief veterinarian.
From Dr. Paul Calle, Bronx Zoo chief veterinarian; "The COVID-19 testing that was performed on our Malayan tiger Nadia was performed in a veterinary school laboratory and is not the same test as is used for people.
— Bronx Zoo (@BronxZoo) April 6, 2020
“You can’t send human samples to the veterinary laboratory, and you can’t send animal tests to the human laboratory, so there is no competition to test between these very different situations. The COVID-19 test, which was performed on our Malaysian tiger Nadia, was performed in the laboratory of a veterinary school, and this is not the test used for people, “added Dr. Kalle.
Until now, experts have claimed that outbreaks of coronaviruses worldwide are caused by person-to-person transmission of the virus.
Several pets have previously tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including Pomeranian and German Shepherd in Hong Kong, a domestic cat in Belgium.
Cats, both wild and domestic, are susceptible to feline coronavirus, but until recently it was unknown if they could become infected with SARS-CoV-2.
A new Chinese study showed that cats can infect each other, and scientists are in a hurry to discover what other species can infect.