WORLD NEWS: The coronavirus has now been transmitted from human to animal now being the first known case of its kind. A tiger at the New York City’s Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It reportedly contracted the virus from an infected but asymptomatic zookeeper. The Malayan tiger named Nadia has tested positive while six other tigers and lions at the zoo are also showing symptoms of a dry cough and loss of appetite.
“It’s the first time, to our knowledge, that a [wild] animal has gotten sick from COVID-19 from a person,” Paul Calle, chief veterinarian for the Bronx Zoo told National Geographic.
According to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) frequently asked questions, the human coronaviruses are common throughout the world. The name corona refers to a crown because these viruses have crown-like spikes on their surface when viewed under an electron microscope.
There are many different coronaviruses identified in animals but only a small number of these can cause disease in humans. Some coronaviruses such as 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1 are common causes of illness, including respiratory illness, in humans throughout the world.
Sometimes coronaviruses infecting animals can evolve to cause disease in humans and become a new (novel) coronavirus for humans. Examples of this are the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), first reported from Saudi Arabia in 2012, and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV), first recognized in China in 2002. On 7 January 2020, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was confirmed as the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The majority of the case-patients initially identified were dealers and vendors at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market (Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market) in Jianghan District of Hubei Province. This suggests that the novel coronavirus has a possible zoonotic origin. However, there has been ongoing sustained transmission of COVID-19 in countries to date.
The specific source of the virus is not yet known.
Social media reacts to tiger infection and testing
Many social media users asked why tigers were being tested when millions of poor people can’t afford to get tested. Dr. Paul Calle clarified that the COVID-19 testing of the tiger Nadia was performed in a veterinary school laboratory and is not the same test as is used for people.
“You cannot send human samples to the veterinary laboratory, and you cannot send animal tests to the human laboratories, so there is no competition for testing between these very different situations,” he explained. Thankfully, Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions are all expected to recover and be fine.
According to the Nat Geo report, several domestic animals have tested positive for Covid-19, including a Pomeranian and German Shepherd in Hong Kong and the cat in Belgium.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says its guidance has not changed. If you have COVID-19, restrict contact with your pets as you would with humans. If you are NOT showing symptoms, interact with your pets as usual.
However, there is zero evidence that pets (or tigers) can transmit the virus to humans. DO NOT panic dump your pets, is the call from experts. One netizen saw the funny side of it, invoking a Tiger King reference.
I guess there is wisdom in staying six-feet away from a tiger as well.