Coronavirus: Tiger in New York zoo tests positive for COVID-19

It's believed the animal caught the disease from a zoo employee.
It's believed the animal caught the disease from a zoo employee. Photo credit: File/Getty

A tiger at a zoo in New York has tested positive for COVID-19, after catching the virus from a zookeeper. 

Nadia, a four-year-old Malaysian tiger at the Bronx Zoo, was tested for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) after developing a dry cough. Her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions were also showing symptoms of the virus but were not tested.

It's believed the animals caught the disease from a zoo employee, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Because the animals need to be put under general anesthetic to get tested, the veterinarian who treated them decided not to test the other animals, the USDA said.

All of the cats are expected to recover.

"There is no evidence that other animals in other areas of the zoo are showing symptoms," the USDA said in a statement.

The large cats' infection is the first of its kind, though according to the USDA there is currently no evidence to show that infected animals - either pets or livestock - can spread COVID-19 to humans.

Despite that, people were advised to restrict contact with other animals "just like you would with other people".

"If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets."

So far there have been more than 300,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, with the country's death at over 9600.