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A John Ball Zoo tiger has COVID, but can your pets get sick, too?

Veterinarians say humans can transmit COVID-19 to cats and dogs, but not the other way around.

John Ball Zoo is working hard to keep the other tigers separated from Nika, the 16-year-old female amur tiger who tested positive for COVID-19 about 10 days ago. 

Nika's keepers noticed she didn't want to eat her breakfast, get out of bed or engage with them.

"(Those are) all things that are pretty unusual for her," John Ball Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Ryan Colburn says.

He says the tiger's fever was 104 degrees, and she had two positive COVID-19 tests taken from her nose and mouth while under anesthesia. She was actually due to get her second COVID vaccine dose that day, too.

"We do think that it probably was something carried in by a team member who hadn't themselves yet started showing symptoms," Dr. Colburn says.

RELATED: Tiger at John Ball Zoo tests positive for COVID-19

As for our smaller animals at home, Pet Veterinary Owner and Veterinarian Dr. Doug Clarke says it's more rare for them to get sick.

"For dogs, it's even more rare," he says. "I don't know why. They're just not nearly as susceptible, and they don't pass it from dog to dog the way cats do it from cat to cat."

Nearly 300 animals in the U.S. had reported COVID cases last month, mostly among dogs, cats and minx. Three of those cases were in Michigan. Tests for animals need to be requested from the state through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

"(Our pets are) not going pass it to us," Dr. Clarke says. "We're more likely to give it to them."

He hopes people don't worry about catching COVID-19 from their pet.

"There's enough drama with this disease as it is, we can take dogs and cats out of the picture," he says. 

Dr. Colburn says Nika the tiger is on the road to recovery. He'll give her a clean bill of health once her next test comes back negative.

"I want to reassure everyone that Nika is doing really well," he says. "We're doing everything we can to make sure that things go smoothly."

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