This would be a world first for this species, no other case having been previously recorded in this family of mammals. On Friday December 3, the Antwerp zoo in northern Belgium reported that two hippototamuses tested positive for Covid-19. Worried to see this duo of animals suffering from a runny nose, the animal park carried out a screening.
“This time, they expelled glanders that I had tested as a precaution,” detailed zoo veterinarian Francis Vercammen, quoted in a press release.
“I made the decision to submit the samples to the Covid-19 test, which gave this surprising result. To my knowledge, this is the first contamination identified in this species. Globally, this virus has mostly been reported in great apes and felines, ”he said.
A little rest away from visitors
The two females, Hermine, 41, and her daughter Imani (14), show no symptoms other than a runny nose and are not in pain. As a precaution, the Antwerp zoo has decided to close the hippo building to visitors. The healers have been tested and are negative. They must now wear additional protective equipment and undergo a daily rapid test.
The origin of the contamination is not known. “None of the caretakers have recently contracted the disease, they have not shown any symptoms,” the zoo said. Belgium, strongly affected by a new wave of contamination, tightened its health restrictions on Friday, announcing in particular the closure of kindergartens and primary schools for Christmas holidays from December 18, a week in advance. The country of 11 million inhabitants has recorded an average of 17,800 infections and 44 deaths per day over the last week.
Omicron is not the last variant of Covid-19
On Monday, the World Health Organization‘s director-general warned that conditions are still favorable for new coronavirus variations to arise and believes Omicron is the final one or that “we are in the endgame” is a mistake.
The pandemic’s acute phase, according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, could end this year if essential requirements get met.
Tedros outlined many accomplishments and problems in global health, including tobacco control, antimicrobial resistance, and the effects of climate change on human health. However, he stated that resolving the pandemic’s acute phase must be a top goal for everyone.
“There are various options for how the pandemic can unfold and how the acute phase might conclude. But it’s risky to presume that omicron will be the last variety or that we’ve reached the end of the road,” Tedros said at the start of a WHO executive board meeting this week. On the contrary, global conditions are favorable for the emergence of more varieties.”
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He claimed that “by fulfilling goals of vaccinating 70% of the population of each nation by the middle of the year we can terminate Covid-19 as a global health emergency this year.” That gets done by concentrating on the person most vulnerable to Covid-19. Moreover, increasing testing and sequencing rates are also needed for better tracking the virus and its variants.
According to studies, Omicron is less likely than delta to induce disease. However, it spreads faster than other coronavirus strains. It has already established itself as the dominant strain in many nations. The virus infects people who have to get vaccinated or infected with previous viruses.
To assist for future pandemics, “it is true that we will be living with Covid for the future and that we will need to learn to manage it through a sustained and integrated system or acute respiratory infections.” “However, learning to live with Covid does not imply that we should give the virus a pass. It cannot mean that we accept nearly 50,000 fatalities every week from a disease that is both preventable and treatable.”
That’s it for now. Put your masks on and get vaccinated to stay safe and secure amidst the pandemic.
Vaccination misinformation left children vulnerable to Omicron
For two years, the Covid-19 epidemic killed adults in the United States, but children got generally spared from adding to the grim numbers.
However, the fast spread of the Omicron variation has resulted in a spike in pediatric illnesses and hospitalizations across the country. And anti-vaccination disinformation that teaches parents that vaccinations are unsafe has enhanced the problem.
Young people’s risks of dying from Covid-19 are still slim. Vaccines dramatically lower the risk of disease, and vaccinated moms may pass that protection on to their children, but vaccination apprehension promoted online puts both parents and children at risk.
Physician Wassim Ballan of Phoenix Children’s Hospital said battling disinformation has become part of his work, from concerns that the injections got created too hastily to incorrect assertions that the jabs might affect future fertility.
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“Unfortunately, a lot of times when we’re meeting with a family to talk about these things, the child is already in the hospital,” he explained the issue.
The vaccinations are “the most critical weapon for prevention,” notably for preventing multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, an uncommon and deadly complication that can occur after a minor Covid-19 infection.
In the United States, just 27% of children aged 5 to 11 had gotten their first vaccination. This month, the number of youngsters admitted to hospitals hit a pandemic high of 914 per day, a significant increase from the previous record of 342 in September 2021.
Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston reported 12 kids in intensive care with Covid-19 in the first week of January 2022.
Babies are too young for the Covid-19 vaccine, Kathryn Gray. An attending physician of maternal-fetal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital says that research is increasingly showing that vaccination during pregnancy results in antibodies being safely transferred to the baby, providing limited protection.
Gray is one of the individuals who keep an eye on the situation. “At this point, there are no safety signs in the data,” she stated. She has “a lot of faith” in her ability to reassure them that the injection is safe. Health agencies across the globe say the same, but the initial lack of data continues to be exploited in vaccine-opposed messaging on social media.
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Texas Deer Covid-19 infection confirmed
The University of Texas at El Paso researchers have confirmed Covid-19 infection in Texas Deer. COVID-19 was found in white-tailed deer in Texas.
The UTEP team published the findings in Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases wherein they have reported first evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in deer from Texas, which widens the previously reported geographical range of COVID-19 among deer in the United States, further confirming that infection was common among the species.
While the mechanisms of COVID-19 transmission between humans and animals is still being investigated, the UTEP team’s study suggests that deer should not be neglected as a possible source of SARS-CoV-2 infection among humans as well as domestic and wildlife animals.
The study author explains that the results of this research raise many questions regarding infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among wild and domestic animals.
The team studied blood samples collected from deer of various ages in Travis County, Texas, during the first two months of 2021, amid the pandemic. Evidence of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies was found in more than a third of the samples, including a significant prevalence among deer that were 1.5 years old, indicating that the disease is rampant among one of the most abundant wildlife species, particularly among males.
The 37% antibody prevalence observed in this study is comparable to the 40% rate reported in deer in other states including Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York.
The research was funded by a grant from the National Institutes on Minority Health and Health Disparities, a component of the National Institutes of Health.
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