HYDERABAD: Now that eight lions have tested positive for COVID-19 at Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, the park has another task at hand - to collect more samples from the lions to know if the viral load has decreased. Nasal or oral discharge from that falls on ground will be collected for this purpose by zoo officials for laboratory tests.
Forest Department officials told The New Indian Express that the Hyderabad zoo has provided fecal samples of the lions to the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), which is developing a protocol for testing of COVID-19 among wild animals.
As getting nasal or oral discharge is not possible in the wild, the CCMB is developing test which would use fecal samples to detect the virus.
When contacted , Dr Karthikeyan Vasudevan, scientist-in-charge at the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (La- CONES), CCMB, said that while testing faeces for detecting diseases among wild animals is not new, it has not been done yet for COVID-19.
As a result, a standardised test using fecal samples and associated protocol - on collection of samples, its storage, testing methodology, etc. - is being developed by the CCMB, which would be then be followed across the country.
Earlier, CCMB Director Dr Rakesh Mishra had said that the testing of fecal samples for COVID-19 can be a useful method of testing in both captive as well as free-ranging animals, and looking for the spread of Coronavirus in animals opensup an unchartered area of work for the institution.