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Almost 10,000 minks in Utah have reportedly died due to Covid-19, spurring quarantines at nine fur farms impacted by the outbreak.
The state’s veterinarian, Dean Taylor, reportedly said that coronavirus had mostly impacted older minks, “wiping out 50% percent of the breeding colonies.” Younger minks were largely unharmed, he said.
The first known Covid-19 cases among US minks were in Utah, with their diagnoses confirmed in mid-August, the federal Department of Agriculture (USDA) said. Authorities learned about minks contracting coronavirus after farm workers tested positive, Taylor told NBC News.
“After unusually large numbers of mink died at the farms, the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory completed necropsies on several of the affected animals,” the USDA said. Samples from the procedures were sent to two laboratories, and Covid-19 was ultimately confirmed.
Earlier this month, authorities also confirmed coronavirus cases among minks in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Dutch mink were first infected with coronavirus by their handlers in April. The government identified two cases in which humans had been infected by sick animals in May, the only animal-to-human transmissions known since the global outbreak began in China.
Research indicates that persons with Covid-19 can infect animals, and some cases of the reverse have been identified in Europe. In May, the government identified two cases in which humans had been infected by sick animals. At that time, they were the only animal-to-human transmissions known since the global outbreak began in China.
Utah agriculture authorities have maintained that animal-to-human infection is unlikely, however, stating: “There is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in transmitting the virus to humans. As it now stands, due to limited information and research, the risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to humans is considered low.”
Humans and minks exhibit similar symptoms from Covid-19 – respiratory distress. More than 214,000 humans have died after contracting the coronavirus in the US, and more than 7.7 million people across the country have been infected.
“Minks show open mouth breathing, discharge from their eyes and nose, and are not sick for several days before they pass away,” Taylor explained. “They typically die within the next day.”
Taylor said that no minks were euthanized in the Utah outbreak. Agriculture and public health officials – including the Centers for Disease Control – were coordinating with mink farm employees to stop coronavirus from spreading, he said.
“Once final testing is done, we’re going to create a state plan to stop this virus from spreading to more farms,” Taylor told the NBC News. “It’s far easier to prevent it from happening, then stopping it from happening all at once.”
According to Fur Commission USA, the nation’s largest association of mink farmers, there are at least 245 mink farms in 22 states. Utah is the country’s second biggest producer for pelts, according to the publication Science.
Covid-19 infected minks were first discovered in the Netherlands, on multiple farms which “also experienced an increase in mink deaths”, the USDA said. There were subsequent outbreaks in Spain and Denmark. These countries have since killed more than 1 million farmed minks as a precautionary measure.
The number of animals worldwide reported to have Covid-19 is “small… mostly after close contact with people with Covid-19,” USDA officials said.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Nearly 10,000 minks dead from Covid-19 outbreak at Utah fur farms | World news