In March, Belgian health officials detected that a domestic cat was infected with the coronavirus responsible for covid-19. The cat started experiencing respiratory problems 1 week after its owner was diagnosed with the disease. Although human-to-animal transmission is rare, another feline has been tested positive for the virus: the Malayan tiger, Nadia, from the Bronx Zoo in New York.
This is believed to be the first case of animal contamination in North America by the new coranavirus. In addition to Nadia, 6 other cats also had respiratory problems, mainly dry cough. It is not yet known how the animals were infected, but the most likely is that an asymptomatic handler was the carrier of the virus.
The first symptoms began to appear in late March. Although the current coronavirus has already been detected in other animals, experts point out that they do not develop the disease like humans and are not at risk of becoming transmitters. “We tested the cat very carefully and we guarantee that any knowledge we acquire about covid-19 will contribute to the continued worldwide understanding of this new coronavirus”, explained the zoo in a statement.
In addition to Nadia, her sister Blue, two Siberian tigers and three lions have symptoms of the disease. Zoo officials believe they will recover fully soon. In addition to the cough, they also showed decreased appetite, but continue to interact normally with their handlers. The site is closed, as well as similar ones in New York City, the most affected by the pandemic in the United States. In addition, infected animals are isolated from other cats to prevent contagion between them.