Amid growing concern over transmission of coronavirus in wildlife animals and pets, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), among many others, have been permitted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Health Ministry to conduct testing on them.
Speaking to IANS, Dr. B.N. Tripathi, Deputy Director General of ICAR's Animal Science division said: "Three institutes of ICAR have been identified for conducting Covid testing on human samples. Since we are also getting requests from the Wildlife Authority of India and Ministry of Environment, we are going to test wildlife samples too."
The Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Izatnagar, the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal and National Research Centre on Equines in Hisar have been identified for this purpose by Dr T. Mohapatra, who is ICAR's Director General and Secretary of the Department of Agricultural Research and Education.
"The Health Ministry has permitted the ICAR, so we are going to start testing in the next 2-3 days in close coordination with the respective state and district health authorities," Dr. Tripathi said.
Meanwhile, zoos in the country are on high alert after a tiger in a zoo in the US tested positive for coronavirus. Last month, a pet cat was also infected with the novel coronavirus in Belgium. The animals are believed to have contracted the virus from the people they live with.
According to the World organisation for Animal Health, cats and ferrets are the most susceptible species for Covid-19.
Assuaging the fear, Dr. Tripathi advised those infected with the virus to not only isolate themselves from other humans but also from their pets.
"Coronavirus is not only a human virus, it affects chicken, domestic animals, canines, felines, bats, etc. Research should be conducted on animals as well. We are going to take up projects and work on it soon," he added.