PORTLAND, Ore — Some changes are underway at the Oregon Zoo after a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for COVID-19.
It is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the United States.
"Getting the news of that tiger testing positive was just a reminder of how quickly this is changing and how little we know about this virus," said Oregon Zoo deputy director Sheri Horiszny.
Horiszny said learning that tigers are susceptible to the virus prompted the zoo to make some immediate changes.
"We were already trying to keep a distance, or wearing masks with our non-human primates and our great apes, and now we're doing that with our cats as well, and, in fact, expanding it to almost all our mammals in the collection," she explained.
Horiszny said care staff members are monitoring the animals closely. So far, no staff members or animals have shown any symptoms.
But is raises the question: should we be paying closer attention to our domestic animals right now too?
Heather Broughton is a doctor of veterinary medicine with a Ph.D. in infectious disease ecology at Oregon State University. She said the risk of your pet getting the virus is extremely low and there is no risk of you getting it from them.
"There's absolutely no concern of them giving it to you," Broughton explained. "Really the only risk is you giving it to them at this point in time."
She also pointed out, if you think your pet might be sick, call your vet before coming in. Because if your pet is sick, there's a good chance it got it from you.
"Because if you're a potential COVID patient, you're exposing the staff at the vets," she said.
Bottom line, we all need to pay close attention to ourselves, to our animals and to the experts.
"Because the recommendations are changing," said Horiszny. "And we're adapting to them as quickly as we can."