Coronavirus is an infectious disease which has been confirmed in more than one million individuals across the world. After a tiger was diagnosed with COVID-19 for the first time last weekend, ITV Lorraine’s Dr Hilary Jones has demanded for answers.
A four-year-old female tiger tested positive for coronavirus in New York City on Sunday.
It’s believed that the Malayan tiger, named Nadia, is the first known case of a feline becoming infected with COVID-19 by an asymptomatic human being.
The big cat developed a dry cough at the end of March, after it was exposed to an infected employee at the Bronx Zoo.
Dr Hilary has demanded information on how the tiger was tested, and whether there was a specific coronavirus test for the feline species.
“Cats too can develop viruses,” Dr Hilary told Lorraine. “We’ve known about feline immunodeficiency virus for many, many years.
“What is important here is this seems to be the first case of an asymptomatic human being looking after the animals has transmitted the virus to a big cat.
“Now, with these viruses we know that they can jump species, which is where a pandemic comes from.
“We think that this particular virus came from a bat or a pangolin. These viruses rarely jumps species.
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“This raises the question, can humans give this to cats, can cats carry it?
“Actually, if you look around the world at the evidence, there’s no evidence that dogs or cats have become ill themselves or have given this coronavirus to humans, or humans to their pets. So, I think we need to keep things in perspective.
“I think we also need to know, because these tigers were tested, were they tested with a test that is specific for this virus, or was it another virus that they tested for? We need more information.
“But certainly, there’s no evidence that you need to worry about stroking your cat or your pet dog, provided that you’re washing your hands regularly, just in case someone else has sneezed on them.”
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There have been only a few isolated reports of pets testing positive for coronavirus across the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that there’s no evidence that pet cats or dogs can pass on the coronavirus.
But, research is ongoing to understand the link further, and the WHO urged people with coronavirus to limit their contact with pets.
Meanwhile, some experts have warned that COVID-19 could pose a conservation risk to some wildlife, including the great apes.
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More than 47,000 people in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus, according to latest government figures.
Of the 47,806 confirmed cases, 4,934 people have died from the infection.
The most common coronavirus symptoms include a high fever, and a new, continuous cough.
Everyone has been told to remain at home to avoid spreading the infection. You should only leave your home to go food or medicine shopping, for medical help, traveling to and from work – where absolutely necessary – and for one form of exercise every day.
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