A four-year-old female Malayan tiger at a zoo in New York City has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, making it the first known case of COVID-19 transmission from humans to a non-domesticated animal.
According to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), samples from the tigress, named Nadia, were taken for evaluation after several lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo showed symptoms of respiratory illness.
The USDA reported that Nadia tested positive for the virus while her sister, Azul, along with two Amur tigers and three African lions developed a dry cough.
Reportedly, the big cats were infected by an asymptomatic zookeeper. Nadia and the other cats are experiencing decreased appetite, but are otherwise alert and interactive under veterinary care.
"It's the first time, to our knowledge, that a [wild] animal has gotten sick from COVID-19 from a person," said Paul Calle, Chief Veterinarian for the Bronx Zoo, reported, National Geographic.
On Sunday, April 5, the zoo tweeted Calle's statements "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.'
Another tweet from the zoo added that, "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."
The Chief Veterinarian also stated that infection from an asymptomatic caretaker is the only possibility since the zoo has been closed to visitors since March 16.
According to USDA, the first tiger began showing the initial signs of sickness on March 27.
The department has further clarified that there is no evidence that animals play a role in the transmission of the disease to people, except for the reported incident at a food market in China's Wuhan. It also said that there is no evidence that any person has been infected with COVID-19 in the U.S. by animals, including by pet dogs or cats.
Calling on the distinctiveness of the case it said further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.
"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," said the zoo.
Also Read: COVID-19 Outbreak: India "Considering" US President Donald Trump's Request To Release Anti-Malaria Drug