Eight Asiatic lions tested positive for Covid-19 at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological park. This is the very first instance in India where lions or any other animal tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in an Indian zoo.
The sample of the tigers was tested by the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB). The sample of 8 lions which include four males and four females were sent to the CCMB after they showed the symptoms of covid-19 on April 19.
The case is widely discussed since it is the first time that human to the animal transmission of the virus has been detected in India. After this case, the CCMB has written to the concerned authority to collect the samples of animals for testing.
Dr. Rakesh Mishra, the CCMB director, told in an interview that the lions were recovering well and eating properly.
He further added that they had shared the SOPs with the zoo that the zoo must follow while feeding and taking care of the wild animals.
“Now we are developing a method to test the samples of their faeces. This method would be useful in future as every time it is not possible to collect saliva samples from wild animals,” Rakesh Mishra said
There was huge speculation as to how the animal tested for covid-19. Mishra busted the myths and said that the animal might have got infected through zoo-keeping staff. “time to time samples of the animal is sent to CCMB for analysis”, a senior official said.
The official further added that the sample from the wild animals would be collected either by the squeeze cage method or by tranquilizing them. Under the squeeze cage method, the animal is confined in a cage without any space so that the animal cannot move or make any resistance while taking samples.
On May 1, the environment ministry issued orders for closing all the zoo parks and animal sanctuaries in the state.
Although the sample taken revealed that the infection of the animal is not out of any serious variant of concern.
Eight lions detecting covid-19 have been isolated and proper care and necessary treatment have been provided to them. Under the preventive measure to stop the spread, the zoo has been closed for visitors to avoid minimal external contact.
But it is strange to see the Covid impacts not only the lives of humans but also affects the animal. So far as WHO official website, there have been reports of large animal outbreaks in mink farms in several countries.
SARS-CoV-2 can change while infecting minks. It has been observed that these mink variants can transmit back into humans through close contact with the mink. Preliminary results suggest that the mink variants infecting humans appear to have the same properties as other variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus
WHO works closely with other organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the World Organisation for Animal Health, to evaluate situations of SARS-CoV-2 in animals and transmission occurring between animals and humans.
As per officials, based on past year experience with zoo animals in other parts of the world, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further.