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Hippos with runny noses test positive for COVID-19 at Belgian zoo

Two hippos at Antwerp Zoo in Belgium tested positive for COVID-19, possibly the first occurrence of the disease in the species, the zoo staff said.

Imani, 14-year-old hippos, and Hermien, 41-year-old hippos, showed no symptoms other than a runny nose, but the zoo said the duo had been quarantined as a precaution. ‘To my knowledge, this is the first time in this species. Worldwide, this virus has been reported mainly in great apes and felines’, said the zoo’s vet, Francis Vercammen.

It is hypothesised that the coronavirus leapt from an animal to a human and it has been proven that it has transmitted from people to animals. Pets such as cats, dogs, and ferrets have gotten infected by coming into touch with their owners, while zoo animals such as large cats, otters, monkeys, and hyenas have been affected.

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The illness has also spread to wild animals such as deer and mink farms. The causes of the outbreak are being investigated by Antwerp Zoo. According to the zoo, none of the zookeepers had lately developed COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for the virus.


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