Tiger at Bronx Zoo Positive for COVID-19:  What Pet Owners Need to Know

Posted In: News Updates

4/7/2020 12:30 p.m… The USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories has confirmed the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in one tiger at a zoo in New York, and it is the first documented case of a tiger infected with COVID-19. Other lions and tigers at the zoo have shown clinical signs of respiratory illness. It is believed that the cats became ill after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus but showing no symptoms. All of the cats are expected to recover, and none of the other animals in the zoo are exhibiting similar clinical signs of COVID-19.

To date, the CDC has not received any reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States. Experts agree there is no evidence at this time to indicate that pets spread COVID-19 to people. There have been a few reports from around the world of animals being infected with Covid-19. In each case, the animal contracted the virus from people they were in contact with. This means our pets are at a greater risk of catching this virus from us, than we are from catching it from our pets.

What this means for pet parents:

  • If you are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you can interact with your pets as you normally would. Continue to practice good hygiene when you are around your pets, such as washing your hands before and after interacting with them and handling their food, supplies, and waste. 
  • Take steps to protect your pets. Keep your cats strictly indoors so their contact is limited to just your family members. Avoid off leash activities for your dog, and maintain their social distancing. Pet owners should prevent pets from coming in contact with unknown individuals to help prevent them from being inadvertently exposed to Covid-19.  
  • As with any illness, if you are sick, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people. When possible, have another member of your household take care of feeding and caring for your pets. If you must care for your animals yourself, wear a cloth face mask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated on the latest developments.

The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at three locations that can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or click here to request an appointment online.