Covid-19 found to infect both animals and humans

Freddy Ortiz, News Editor

Just when we thought Covid-19 couldn’t get any worse, it does. Prior to April 6, there had been no reports of animals contracting the virus, but now a tiger at the Bronx Zoo has fallen ill to the infamous disease. Officials have dubbed the case a “human-to-cat transmission”.

According to the Federal Agriculture Department, “This is the first instance of a tiger being infected with Covid-19,” noting further that the virus appears to have infected other animals housed in the zoo.

“Several lions and tigers at the zoo showed symptoms of respiratory illness,” according to a statement by the department. Animal health specialists believe the animals will recover.

It is believed the animals contracted Covid-19 from a zoo employee.

Dr. Paul Calle, the chief veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo, said in a phone interview, “That’s the assumption, that one of the keepers who were asymptomatic or shedding the virus before they were sick was the source of the infection.”

Although the zookeepers typically maintain a distance and barrier between themselves and the cats, there are times when they’re required to get within a few feet of the animals. “During the course of feeding and doing enrichment, they will come within feet of them, but on opposite sides of the barrier,” noted Calle.

The earliest signs of illness go back to March 27, when 4-year old Malayan tiger Nadia appeared tired and weak. The tiger’s sister Azul and two Amur tigers are also infected. They are located in the zoo’s Tiger Mountain enclosure.

The infection of animals has led to the sprouting of home concerns amongst pet owners across the nation. Former Joliet West student Joanne Ortiz stated, “It’s insane how much this disease has changed since it first landed here. First, it was one thing, then it mutated into another strain, now bodies of water were reported to carry it and animals can get it. It’s terrifying.”

Jenifer Ortiz, who works at a local Sam’s Club, adds, “I worry for the animals at home. I’m exposed to hundreds of people at work. It’d be devastating if I got them sick and they don’t recover.”

These zoo infections are only the first of many. Government officials project the next two weeks to be the most devastating, with infection rates and death tolls to grow exponentially. So, remember to follow CDC guidelines and stay at home if possible. Protect yourself and our beloved animals from this dastardly illness.