Odisha zoo on high alert after tiger gets infected with COVID-19 in New York

Bhubaneswar: In the wake of confirmation of COVID-19 in a tiger in the United States, authorities of Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) have taken precautionary measure to prevent transmission of deadly virus from humans to animals.

The officials engaged for animals at the zoo have been asked to maintain social distancing inside the wildlife habitat. They have been advised to isolate and quarantine the sick animals and have least contact while providing feed to them.

Speaking to media about reports of a tiger infected with novel coronavirus, the NZP authorities said that the big cat might have developed the COVID-19 symptoms after coming in contact with an infected person as the transmission of deadly virus from animal to animal is yet to be found anywhere.

“So far there is no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 from animal to animal. We suspect it might have come from an infected person in New York zoo. We are taking precautionary measure to prevent spread of the virus inside Nanadankanan zoo,” said Jayant Das, Deputy Director of Nandankanan Zoo.

As per the advisory issued by Central Zoo Authority (CZA) after a tiger housed in the Bronx Zoo, New York, was found COVID-19 positive, the keepers or handlers should not be allowed in the vicinity without safety gear preferably Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a close watch will be kept on the animals using CCTV to observe any abnormal behaviour or symptoms.

The CZA under Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has written to the Chief Wildlife Warden of all the states and union territories of the country advising to remain alert to fight the highly infectious disease.

“Mammals like carnivores especially cat, ferret and primates to be carefully monitored and fortnightly samples of suspect cases to be sent to the designated animal health institutes to initiate COVID-19 testing while following all bio-containment and safety measures required to handle this high risk pathogen as per the national/ICMR guidelines,” the CZA wrote.

The Centre asked the authorities of all the zoos to strictly adhere to safety and disinfection protocol issued by the government on COVID-19.

The zoos have also been advised to coordinate with designated nodal agencies of the government responsible for public health response and permit screening, testing, surveillance and diagnostic samples as and when required by the nodal agency.

The preparedness came after a tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the new coronavirus, in what is believed to be the first case in an animal. The tiger is believed to have contracted the infection from a caretaker.

The 4-year-old tiger named Nadia developed dry coughs and loss of appetite reportedly due to COVID-19.

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