Bronx Zoo Records First Case of big Cat Coronavirus

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Brian Adam
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Bronx Zoo entrance, where a tigress tested positive for COVID-19./AFP
Bronx Zoo entrance, where a tigress tested positive for COVID-19.

Two days with no increase in new hospitalizations give authorities hope of flattening the curve sooner than expected

Her name is Nadia. She is four years old and suffers from Covid-19. Why not that the coronavirus did not affect children? Nadia is not a child, but a Malaysian tigress. His case is even more peculiar because only a handful of animals in the world they suffer the disease that scares all humans. This Bronx Zoo tigress is the first of her kind.

Like everything in New York, the zoo was closed since March 27, so the source of contagion is believed to have been an asymptomatic caregiver that fed her. Not for lack of “social distance,” the virus was probably transported to animals in metal food containers.

No one had thought of protecting them. The virus was not supposed to pass from humans to animals, as it is still believed that animals cannot transmit it to their owners. The few cases detected in the world they are limited to a cat and two dogs confined with their owners during the quarantine in Hong Kong and to a cat in Belgium, whose owner returned infected from Italy.

Nadia is not the only one. Her sister, Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions have also had a dry cough, they have lost their appetite and the desire to move, but veterinarians have decided that it is not worth putting them under anaesthesia to give them a diagnostic test because the risk outweighs the benefit for animals, which are already considered infected. “It is not known how the disease will evolve in these big cats, because each species reacts differently to new infections,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement, “but we will continue to monitor them closely and anticipate that they will recover fully.”

Other zoos, like the one in San Francisco, have taken note and promise take extreme precautions from now on. Accordingly, the USDA has recommended that pet owners wash their hands before and after touching them to protect their pets.

The Bronx is one of New York’s hot spots, with even more than 130,000 confirmed cases and nearly 5,000 deaths, followed a long way from the neighbouring state of New Jersey. The good news is that for two days in a row (Friday and Saturday) the number of hospitalizations, so experts believe that the peak of the curve may have been reached earlier than they thought.

“We are not going to let our guard down,” Governor Andrew Cuomo warned. “We have always been behind this virus, we have underestimated it, and we are not going to make the same mistake.” With that determination, yesterday the period of confinement until the end of April and warned that it would reinforce the persecution of those who do not comply with the norms of social distance. The hardening will mainly affect the parks, where people begin to crowd with the first rays of the spring sun. Fines for those who are not exercising alone or lying on the grass can be as high as $ 500, Mayor Bill de Blasio has warned.

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