Eight lions from an Indian zoo have tested positive for the coronavirus in what is believed to be the first such case in the country.
Nehru Zoological Park officials have reportedly decided to test Asian lions for Covid-19 after veterinarians working at the zoo noticed the felines were showing symptoms of the virus, including loss of appetite and a cough.
The Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) reportedly informed the Hyderabad Zoo that the RT-PCR tests of eight lions came back positive on April 29.
Four males and four female lions, out of a total of 12 in the 40-acre safari area, have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Times of India.
Eight Asian lions (photo: file image) from Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad have reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus in what is believed to be the first such case in India
The curator and director of the Nehru Zoological Park has neither confirmed nor denied the news, saying they have yet to receive reports from RT-PRC.
Dr Siddhanand Kukrety continued: “It is true that the lions were showing symptoms of Covid, but I have not yet received the RT-PCR reports from the CCMB and therefore it will not be appropriate to comment. The lions are doing well.
According to sources, vets were asked to take samples from the lions after management was made aware of the symptoms, which were sent to CCMB in Hyderabad for testing.
Field vets took samples from the lion’s oropharynx, the middle part of the pharynx behind the mouth, which were given to scientists at CCMB for genome sequencing to determine whether the strain was from humans or animals.
Nehru Zoological Park officials (above) reportedly tested lions for Covid after wildlife vets noticed the felines were showing symptoms of the virus, including loss of appetite and coughing.
Four males and four female lions (above: file photo of the Asiatic lion at Nehru Zoological Park), out of a total of 12 in the 40-acre safari area, have tested positive for the coronavirus
Amid a spike in coronavirus cases across India, Nehru Zoological Park closed to the public two days ago.
MailOnline has contacted CCMB for comment.
Although the lion coronavirus cases are considered the first of their kind in India, other zoos and national parks have seen rare cases of animals contracting the virus.
CATS AND COVIDS: WHAT WE KNOW
How do cats catch coronavirus?
Cats are infected in the same way as humans, by inhaling droplets that carry the virus.
There have been many cases around the world and almost all of them seem to have caught it from their owners. Animals appear to be much less susceptible to infection and less likely to become seriously ill.
Cats of all sizes have been affected, with Nadia, a four-year-old Malaysian tiger from the Bronx Zoo in New York City, catching the virus but making a full recovery.
Dogs and others do animals understand it too?
Yes, there have been cases in dogs and other pets around the world, with infections confirmed in dogs, hamsters, ferrets and mink. It is believed that the virus first appeared in a bat in China and infected a pangolin before spreading to humans.
Can humans catch Covid infected animals?
There is no evidence that animals pass it on to humans, with research suggesting they don’t release enough virus to be infectious to humans.
However, scientists have warned that animals can carry the virus in the same way it can be picked up from doorknobs or tables.
And the animals spread to each other?
It is proven that cats can transmit the coronavirus to other cats.
In May, researchers at the University of Wisconsin conducted an experiment when they infected three cats with the virus, then put three non-Covid felines with them.
The three newcomers then tested positive after catching it from the infected animals.
How serious are the symptoms virus in cats?
Covid-19 appears to be much less fatal in animals than in humans. The first British cat to test positive showed mild symptoms but made a full recovery.
Many other felines that tested positive did not show any symptoms.
But there has been at least one case where a cat had to be shot after developing severe pneumonia. It is not clear if he 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 advises infected people to limit contact with animals. Owners who test positive should also keep cats indoors if possible.
In December, four lions at Barcelona Zoo tested positive for Covid-19, believed to be only the third known case in which big cats have contracted coronavirus.
Three women named Zala, Nima and Run Run and Kiumbe, a man, were tested after the guards noticed they had mild symptoms of coronavirus.
Two zoo staff also tested positive for the coronavirus, veterinary authorities said, after the outbreak was detected a month earlier.
The Barcelona Veterinary Service had contacted colleagues at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, where four tigers and three lions tested positive for COVID-19 in April of last year.
In at least one other case involving big cats, a tiger has tested positive for the virus and two others have been presumed positive after briefly showing symptoms at the Knoxville Zoo in the US state of Tennessee in October, according to the zoo. .
“The zoo contacted and collaborated with international experts such as the Bronx Zoo Veterinary Service […] which has documented cases of Sars-CoV-2 infection in felines, ”Barcelona Zoo said in a statement.
It is believed that SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes the coronavirus – probably evolved 70 years ago and resided in bats, is unable to spread to another species.
However, the virus is believed to have jumped into an intermediate species, potentially pangolins or wild dogs, before jumping on humans, but there is a lot of debate about this.
A number of cases have also been found in animals since the onset of the disease, both domestic and wild.
A kitten had to be shot after catching Covid from its owner in 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.
His condition worsened in the following days and the kitten had to be slaughtered, post-mortem tests revealing he had lung damage from viral pneumonia and signs of coronavirus infection, causing the disease
The owner had suffered symptoms of Covid the previous month but was unable to get tested, and scientists concluded they had passed the virus on to their pet.
According to the CDC, a small number of pet cats and dogs have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, most of which have become ill after contact with people.
In addition to lions and tigers in zoos in New York, Tennessee and Barcelona, one puma has tested positive for the virus in South Africa.
A number of European countries – including Denmark, the Netherlands and Greece have also witnessed devastating outbreaks of the virus on mink farms, which have led to the slaughter of millions of creatures.
It has been found that once the virus is on a mink farm, it can spread from mink to other creatures.
But experts are unsure whether the virus can spread from mink to humans – although reports from Denmark and the Netherlands suggest it is possible.