India Issues "Highest Alert" in Zoos after Tiger Tests COVID-19 Positive in American Zoo

India Issues "Highest Alert" in Zoos after Tiger Tests COVID-19 Positive in American Zoo

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New Delhi, April 6, 2020:

The Government of India has issued an alert for all the zoos in the country and urged them to adopt "highest alertness". Further, the Central Zoo Authority has called upon all zoo keepers to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) so as not to affect the big cats.

The letter to the Chief Wildlife Warden of all the States and Union Territories, has asked the zoos in the country to watch animals on 24.7 basis using CCTV for any abnormal behavior/symptoms, keepers/handlers not be allowed in the vicinity without safety gear, preferably PPE, isolate and quarantine sick animals, and have least contact while providing feed to animals.

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The note, undersigned by S.P. Yadav, Member Secretary of the Central Zoo Authority, further calls upon mammals like carnivores, especially cats, 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. The personnnel have also been urged to follow all containment and safety measures measures required to handle "this high-risk pathogen as per the national/ICMR guidelines."

The designated institutes where the animals' samples can be tested are as follows: National Institute of High Security Animal Disease (NIAHSAD) in Bhopal, National Research Centre on Equines, Hisar, and the Centre for Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic (CADRAT), Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly.

The authority has also urged all zoo personnel to strictly adhere to safety and disinfection protocol issued by the Government time-to-time on the novel coronavirus disease.

This notification was issued in the wake of the confirmation of the COVID-19 in a tiger housed in the Bronx Zoo of New York, the worst affected State in the United States.

The tiger, named Nadia, is believed to be the first known case of an animal infected with Covid-19 in the US. The Bronx Zoo, in New York City, says the test result was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa. Nadia, a Malayan tiger, and six other tigers are believed to have been infected by an asymptomatic zoo keeper.

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The zoo said in a statement, "We tested the cat [Nadia] out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about Covid-19 will contribute to the world's continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus."

Nadia, her sister Azul, as well as two Amur tigers and three African lions who showed symptoms, are all expected to make a full recovery, the zoo said. All four zoos run by the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City, including the Bronx Zoo, have been closed to the public since 16 March.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that there is no proof to suggest that animals can transmit the novel coronavirus to humans.

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Edited By: Admin
Published On: Apr 06, 2020