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11 Apr, 2020 04:09

Cat scratch fever? Indian state orders ZOOS to report suspected coronavirus cases among animals after tiger in US tests positive

Cat scratch fever? Indian state orders ZOOS to report suspected coronavirus cases among animals after tiger in US tests positive

The Indian state of Maharashtra has instructed zoos and rescue centers to send reports on animals showing signs of Covid-19, after concerns were raised when a tiger living in a US zoo was diagnosed with the deadly virus.

The Maharashtra Zoo Authority (MZA) on Friday called on facilities across the state to provide information on any captive animals displaying symptoms of the coronavirus, which include all the typical signs of the illness in humans, such as fever, coughing or difficulties breathing.

“So far we have no reports of any animals showing unusual symptoms or ill-health across any captive animal centers in Maharashtra,” MZA official Ravikiran Govekar told the Hindustan Times, but added that “considering the seriousness of the issue,” the authority has asked the state’s zoos to report any suspected cases.

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While the World Health Organization (WHO) previously suggested animals commonly owned as pets, such as cats and dogs, were unable to contract the virus, the health body has since scrubbed that information from its website. In the meantime, a number of household pets around the world have come down with the illness, including two dogs and a cat in Hong Kong and another feline in Belgium. However, when Nadia – a four-year-old Malayan tiger living in New York’s Bronx Zoo – tested positive for Covid-19, alarm bells were set off for the MZA, which oversees some 36 tigers in Maharashtra’s 13 zoos, along with nearly 100 other big cats.

India is home to more wild tigers than any other nation, counting nearly 3,000 within its borders in 2018, some two-thirds of the world population, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

In addition to the request for information and urging zoos to follow coronavirus-related guidelines handed down by the central government, the MZA has asked wildlife parks to keep detailed records of the comings and goings of staff, overall sanitation at the facilities and all medical treatment given to captive animals. All zoos in Maharashtra are expected to deliver their reports by Sunday.

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