Nagpur Veterinary College returns tiger cub’s samples without Covid-19 testdline
The Nagpur Veterinary College (NVC) on Tuesday returned swab samples of a three-month-old tiger cub, the first suspected case of Covid-19 for a wild animal in Maharashtra, without testing them, officials said.
NVC asked the forest department to go to an institute approved by the Centre for animal testing in India.
“We realised that it is ethically incorrect to perform the Covid-19 test for the wild animal since we do not have Centre’s approval. In such circumstances, the samples need to be sent to the closest approved institute, and this has been conveyed to the forest department,” said Dr. A P Somkuwar, associate dean, NVC.
The college aims to get an approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to be designated as an approved institute for further animal testing in Maharashtra.
HT reported on Monday that swab samples of the female cub, rescued from paddy fields in Mul taluka of Chandrapur district, were collected on April 28 by the forest department after concerns of improper protective equipment during the rescue and initial ill health of the cub. The samples were sent to NVC for testing on May 1.
The test results were expected on Tuesday. The cub is currently being kept at a transit treatment centre in Chandrapur and is healthy, forest officials said.
NVC’s last minute decision not to test the samples left the forest department in a lurch. “If this was the case, the college could have informed us much earlier. During the lockdown, it is difficult to get permissions and interstate transportation. However, the process will begin immediately,” said A L Sonkusare, divisional forest officer (territorial), Chandrapur.
Nitin Kakodkar, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), Maharashtra said, “Following NVC’s decision we have decided to send the swab samples to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal. We are working on the permissions for interstate transport. Once all permissions are in place, the samples will be sent.”
The cub will not be reunited with its mother until its samples are tested.
“In the meantime, the cub will remain in the transit treatment centre at Chandrapur, and efforts to reunite her with her mother are put on hold till we get the results.” Kakodkar said.
Sonskusare said arrangements were being made to send the samples to Bhopal since it is the closest.
After the first confirmed case of a tiger testing positive for Covid-19 in New York was reported on April 5, the Centre approved three institutes were approved Covid-19 animal testing - National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, National Research Centre on Equines in Hisar, Haryana, and Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.