Hippos infected by coronavirus at the Antwerp Zoo



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.


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