COVID-19 cases reported in animals is not uncommon, with the virus being detected in numerous other species before. However, it’s a world’s first for two hippopotamuses, Imani, aged 14, and 41-year-old Hermien, that have tested positive for the virus.
The pair, that are kept at Antwerp Zoo in Belgium, have no symptoms apart from a runny nose, but the zoo said that they had been put into quarantine as a precaution.
The hippos’ noses are usually wet, but vets at Antwerp Zoo decided to test them after they noticed they were expelling snot, reports BBC News.
“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 to Reuters.
The virus, which was first detected in animals and passed on to humans, is now jumping from humans to animals.
Pets including cats, dogs and ferrets have become infected following contact with their owners, while in zoos, cases have been reported in animals such as big cats, otters, primates and hyenas.
Canada also confirmed that three COVID cases have been discovered in wild deer — the first such report in the country’s wildlife, reports Global News.
According to the zoo, no one working with the hippos have experienced symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19. The case is being investigated.