The United States (USA) Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories, in a statement dated 5th April, 2020, has confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in a Tiger housed in the Bronx Zoo, New York.
Taking cognizance of the same, the Central Zoo Authority under Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has advised Zoos in the country to remain on highest alertness, watch animals on 24X7 basis, using CCTV for any abnormal behavior/symptoms, keepers/handlers not to be allowed in the vicinity without safety gear preferably PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), isolate & quarantine sick animals, and have least contact while providing feed to animals.
The advisory further stated that Mammals like carnivores especially cat, ferret and primates to be carefully monitored and fortnightly samples of suspect cases to be sent to the designated animal health institutes to initiate COVID-19 testing while following all bio-containment and safety measures required to handle this high risk pathogen as per the national / ICMR guidelines:
- National Institute of High Security Animal Disease (NIHSAD), Bhopal, MP
- National Research Centre on Equines (NRCE), Hisar, Haryana.
- Centre for Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic (CADRAD), Indian Veterinary Research Institute, (IVRI), Izatnagar, Bareilly, UP.
The Central Zoo Authority has advised that all zoo personnel to strictly adhere to safety and disinfection protocol issued by the Government, time to time, on Novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).
Further, zoos are advised to coordinate with designated nodal agencies of the Government responsible for public health response and permit screening, testing and surveillance and diagnostic samples as and when required by the nodal agency.
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
[Press Release dt. 06-04-2020]