New Delhi: Eight Asiatic Lions housed in the Hyderabad zoo have contracted the SARS-COV2 disease, causing respiratory distress in them. The felines have been isolated and are responding well to treatment, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change said today. The virus variant found on them are not of concern to humans and there is no evidence of transmission from animals, the government said, requesting media to remain cautious while reporting on the matter.
Some media reports had today said that the lions had tested positive for COVID-19, setting off alarm bells since this would be the first global case of animals contracting the disease ravaging nations.
“On the 24th April 2021 with an abundance of caution, Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad, shared samples (as collected from nose, throat, and respiratory tract under anaesthesia)…for eight Asiatic lions housed in the Zoo that had showed signs of respiratory distress,” the release said.
“Based on detailed diagnostic tests…it has now been confirmed that the eight Asiatic lions…have tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus,” it said.
Further analyses of samples revealed that the infection was not caused by any “variant of concern” to human beings.
The lions are behaving normally and eating well. Preventive measures are already in place for all staff, with the zoo being closed down to avoid minimal external contact, the Centre has said.
The Central Zoo Authority has taken pre-emptive measures and issued guidelines and advisories to zoos in light of the increasing number of cases of SARS CoV-2.
“Based on experience with zoo animals elsewhere in the world that have experienced SARS-COV2 positive last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further,” the release said.
“Media is, therefore, requested to exercise extreme caution while reporting and provide a responsible coverage for the same.”