Two lionesses have tested positive for COVID-19 at Etawah Safari Park in Uttar Pradesh. Both the animals have been kept in isolation, said the park’s director.
According to PTI, IVRI Joint Director Dr KP Singh said the chain of transmission of the virus could have taken place through any asymptomatic human carrier, probably caretakers, working at the park.
He said the safari park authorities have been advised to shift the infected animals in isolation. The safari park has already been shut for public.
The CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology had on Tuesday said eight Asiatic lions in the Hyderabad zoo have tested positive for COVID-19. It had said these animals must have got infected through zoo-keeping staff.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had said the infected animals were behaving normally.
The possibility of animals contracting Covid-19 first came to light when a four-year-old female tiger ‘Nadia’ & six others tested positive at Bronx Zoo in New York City in April last year. The animals got infected after getting exposed to an asymptomatic zookeeper.
There have also been isolated instances of pets getting coronavirus elsewhere in the world, but experts have stressed that there is no evidence of them spreading the disease.
It is believed that Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease, meaning it came to humans from animals, but there is no clear evidence of animals playing any significant role in spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is prevalent in humans now, but different studies have shown that humans can transit the virus to animals upon close contact.
United States’ top public health body, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention also confirmed cats, dogs, mink, lions and several other mammals are vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 virus, but the risk of animals spreading Covid-19 to people is considered to be low.