Eight lions in an Indian zoo have tested positive for coronavirus in what is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
Officials at Nehru Zoological Park reportedly decided to test the Asiatic lions for Covid-19 after veterinarians working at the zoo noticed the felines had symptoms of the virus, including loss of appetite and coughing.
Hyderabad Zoo is believed to have been told by the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) that the RT-PCR tests of eight lions came back positive on April 29.
Four males and four female lions, out of 12 in total on the 40-acre safari area, tested positive for coronavirus, said Times of India.
Eight Asiatic lions (photo: file image) at Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad reportedly tested positive for coronavirus in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in India
The curator and director of Nehru Zoological Park did not confirm or deny the news, claiming that they had not yet received the RT-PRC reports.
Dr. Siddhanand Kukrety continued: ‘It is true that the lions showed Covid symptoms, but I have not yet received the RT-PCR reports from the CCMB and therefore it is not correct to comment. The lions are doing well. ‘
According to sources, the vets were advised to take samples from the lions after management was notified of the symptoms, which were sent to the CCMB in Hyderabad for investigation.
Field veterinarians took samples from the oropharyngeal lion, the middle part of the pharynx behind the mouth, which were given to CCMB scientists for genome sequencing in an attempt to determine whether the strain was from humans or animals.
Nehru Zoological Park officials (above) reportedly tested the lions for Covid after wildlife veterinarians noted that the felines had symptoms of the virus, including loss of appetite and coughing
Four male and four female lions (above: file photo of Asiatic lion in Nehru Zoological Park), out of 12 in total on the 40-acre safari area, tested positive for coronavirus
Amid a spike in coronavirus cases across India, Nehru Zoological Park closed its doors to the public two days ago.
MailOnline has contacted the CCMB for comment.
While lion coronavirus is believed to be the first of its kind in India, other zoos and national parks have seen rare cases of animals contracting the virus.
CATS AND COVID: WHAT WE KNOW
How do cats catch coronavirus?
Cats become infected in the same way as humans, by inhaling droplets that carry the virus.
There have been numerous cases around the world and it seems that almost all of them have been caught by their owners. Animals appear to be much less prone to infection and less likely to become seriously ill.
Cats of all sizes have been affected, with Nadia, a four-year-old Malayan tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo, catching the bug but making a full recovery.
Can dogs and other do animals get it too?
Yes, cases have been reported in dogs and other pets around the world, with confirmed infections in dogs, hamsters, ferrets and mink. The virus is thought to have surfaced in a bat in China and infected a pangolin before spreading to humans.
Can people catch Covid? of infected pets?
There is no evidence that animals transmit it to humans, and research suggests they do not release enough virus to be contagious to humans.
However, scientists have warned that animals can transport the virus in the same way that it can be picked up from door handles or tables.
How about animals spread it to each other?
There is some evidence that cats can spread the coronavirus to other cats.
In May, researchers at the University of Wisconsin conducted an experiment when they infected three cats with the virus and then put three Covid-free felines in them.
The three newcomers tested positive after collecting it from the infected animals.
How bad are the symptoms of the virus in cats?
Covid-19 appears to be much less lethal in animals than in humans. The first British cat to test positive showed mild symptoms but made a full recovery.
Many other cats who tested positive showed no symptoms at all.
But there has been at least one case of a cat who had to be killed after developing severe pneumonia. It is not clear whether it would have died naturally.
I tested positive – how can I protect my pet?
Public health England has urged pet owners to wash their hands before and after contact with animals. The British Veterinary Association recommends that infected people limit contact with animals. Owners who test positive should also keep cats indoors if possible.
In December, four lions at the Barcelona Zoo tested positive for Covid-19, thought to be just the third known case of big cats contracting the coronavirus.
Three females named Zala, Nima and Run Run and Kiumbe, a male, were tested after goalkeepers found themselves showing mild symptoms of coronavirus.
Two zoo employees also tested positive for coronavirus, veterinary authorities said, after the outbreak was first discovered a month earlier.
The Barcelona Veterinary Service had contacted colleagues at New York’s Bronx Zoo, where four tigers and three lions tested positive for COVID-19 in April last year.
In at least one other case involving big cats, one tiger tested positive for the virus and two more were presumed positive after briefly showing symptoms at Zoo Knoxville, Tennessee, in October, the zoo said.
The Zoo has reached out to and worked with international experts such as the Bronx Zoo’s Veterinary Service […] that has documented cases of Sars-CoV-2 infection in felines, ‘the Barcelona Zoo said in a statement.
It is believed that SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes the coronavirus – probably evolved up to 70 years ago and resided in bats, is incapable of spreading to another species.
However, the virus is thought to have jumped into an intermediate species, possibly pangolins or wild dogs, before it jumped into humans, but this is much debated.
Since the outbreak of the disease, a number of other cases have also been found in animals, both in the wild and in the wild.
A kitten had to be put down after catching Covid from its owner on the UK’s first wave, scientists recently revealed.
The cat was a four-month-old Ragdoll who was taken to the vet in April 2020 because he was having trouble breathing.
The condition got worse over the following days and the kitten had to be put to sleep, with post-mortem tests showing it had lung damage from viral pneumonia and signs of coronavirus infection causing the condition.
The owner was suffering from Covid symptoms the month before but could not be tested, and scientists concluded they passed the virus on to their pet.
According to the CDC, a small number of cats and dogs were reportedly infected with SARS-CoV-2 as pets, most of which became ill after contact with humans.
In addition to lions and tigers in zoos in New York, Tennessee and Barcelona, a cougar in South Africa tested positive for the virus.
A number of European countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands and Greece, have also seen devastating outbreaks of the virus on mink farms, leading to the culling of millions of animals.
It has been found that once the virus is on a mink farm, it can spread from mink to other creatures.
But experts aren’t sure the virus can spread from mink to humans – although reports from Denmark and the Netherlands suggest it can.