Nadia, 4-year-old Malaysian tigress at New York Bronx Zoo, has become the only animal to have tested positive for the coronavirus in the United States.
After the feline began to present a dry and persistent cough on March 27, disclosed that his caregiver had tested positive for COVID-19, which caught the attention of all the zoo staff.
Although it has already been confirmed that the tigress was infected with this new coronavirus, is still another case that raises questions about the role of animals in the spread of the disease that currently keeps many of the world’s population in suspense.
Already throughout these months, the World Organization for Animal Health, an organization based in Paris, France, has declared that the cases of contagion of a dog in Hong Kong and a Belgian cat, are isolated and insignificant cases, and that alarms should not be triggered unnecessarily.
With the recently confirmed case of the New York tigress, new research begins to emerge that shed light on a topic of general interest.
An unpublished analysis from the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, the first veterinary medicine research institute in China, notes that cats could become infected with coronavirus and spread to other kittens, like ferrets. However, the project also considers other animals such as ducks, pigs, chickens, and dogs unlikely to contract Covid-19 and be susceptible to it.
The virologist Bu Zhigao and your team they inoculated the coronavirus in dozens of animals that traditionally tend to be companions or coexist with the human being and studied how its propagation in the organism of the study subjects evolved. The result showed that while SARS-CoV-2 minimally replicates in dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks; in the case of cats and ferrets the spread is more consistentCats being the only animal where evidence of the virus present in their respiratory flows has been found.
These data are not definitive, but could lay the foundations for propping up the main theories in the dynamics of virus propagation and its existence in the animal world.
“With SARS and MERS we have had similar situations. The central question is whether animals are associated with the transmission of the disease.“, said Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, when he referred to sporadic infections from pets.
Comforting news for pet lovers is that, so far, everything seems to indicate that no domestic animal is capable of secreting enough of the virus to infect a human being by the respiratory route, not even cats, according to the World Organization for Animal Health, which has spent months reviewing reports of infected animals. Are animals vectors of the disease? “The answer is no”, stated forcefully the same Michael Ryan.
And even if they could effectively transmit the coronavirus, the epidemic records make it clear that this is not happening, and that it would be a very small contagion vector proportionally speaking; that is, it would be a considerable distance from the main routes of contagion that are, essentially, from one person to another.
Faced with this almost null possibility, It is not recommended to lower your guard or relax security measures. By contrast, health authorities like the United States CDC have not only recommended strict habits with pets, such as washing hands, keeping pets clean and consulting the vet, but also urges protect pets while sick to reduce the risk of contagion.
At this time, when all research efforts are focused on humans, and although there is no evidence, it is desirable not to completely rule out any possible route of animal infection, minimally likely at this point in the epidemic.