Malayan Tiger Tests Positive For COVID-19 After Zookeepers Find Her Coughing

This is the first known case of a person infecting an animal with COVID-19.

Cover image via AFP/New Straits Times & Zeacorzeppelin10/YouTube

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City has tested positive for COVID-19

According to New Straits Times, the four-year-old Malayan tiger, named Nadia, was screened for COVID-19 after developing a dry cough.

Nadia's sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions also developed symptoms, said Wildlife Conservation Society, the organisation that runs the zoo, in a statement yesterday, 5 April.

Nadia, the female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, tested positive for COVID-19.

Image via Reuters/Malay Mail

Nadia has been sick since 27 March and underwent X-rays, an ultrasound, and blood tests to try to figure out what was ailing her

Malay Mail reported that the zoo finally decided to test her for COVID-19 given the surge of cases in New York City, the epicentre of the outbreak in the United States.

"We tested the cat [Nadia] out of an abundance of caution," the zoo officials said.

While the other tigers and lions were also exhibiting symptoms, they decided to test only Nadia because she was the sickest and had started to lose her appetite.

Otherwise, they assured that the cats are doing well under close monitoring and veterinary care, and are expected to all fully recover.

"They are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers."

Lions in the Bronx Zoo enclosure.

Image via Expedia

As for their source of infection, the zoo believes that the cats became sick after exposure to an asymptomatic zoo employee

"This is the first time that any of us know of anywhere in the world that a person infected the animal and the animal got sick," the zoo's chief veterinarian Paul Calle told Reuters, who added that they do not know which employee infected the tiger.

However, Calle said that they plan to share findings with other zoos and institutions about the cats and their response to the COVID-19 infection.

"It is not known how this disease will develop in big cats since different species can react differently to novel infections, but we will continue to monitor them closely and anticipate full recoveries," he said.

"Hopefully we will all have a better understanding as a result."

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Zeacorzeppelin10/YouTube

The virus that causes COVID-19 is believed to have spread from animals to humans:

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