Greater than 15,000 minks in america have died of the coronavirus since August, and authorities are holding a couple of dozen farms beneath quarantine whereas they examine the instances, state agriculture officers mentioned.

International well being officers are eyeing the animals as a possible danger for folks after Denmark final week launched into a plan to get rid of all of its 17 million minks, saying a mutated coronavirus pressure might transfer to people and evade future COVID-19 vaccines.

The US states of Utah, Wisconsin and Michigan – the place the coronavirus has killed minks – mentioned they don’t plan to cull animals and are monitoring the scenario in Denmark.

“We imagine that quarantining affected mink farms along with implementing stringent biosecurity measures will achieve controlling SARS-CoV-2 at these areas,” the US Division of Agriculture informed Reuters on Tuesday.

The USDA mentioned it’s working with the US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, state officers and the mink business to check and monitor contaminated farms.

The US has 359,850 minks bred to supply infants, often called kits, and produced 2.7 million pelts final 12 months. Wisconsin is the most important mink-producing state, adopted by Utah.

Sick minks in Wisconsin and Utah had been uncovered to folks with possible or confirmed COVID-19 instances, the USDA mentioned. In Michigan, it’s nonetheless unknown if the minks had been contaminated by people, based on the company.

In Utah, the primary US state to substantiate mink infections in August, about 10,700 minks have died on 9 farms, mentioned Dean Taylor, state veterinarian.

“On all 9, every thing continues to be suggesting a one-way journey from folks to the minks,” he mentioned. Coronavirus testing has been achieved on minks that die and randomly on the affected farms, Taylor mentioned. Like folks, some minks are asymptomatic or mildly affected, he mentioned.

A person handles culled mink on the farm of Henrik Nordgaard Hansen and Ann-Mona Kulsoe Larsen close to Naestved, Denmark [File: Ritzau Scanpix/Reuters]

The CDC mentioned it was supporting states’ investigations into sick minks, together with testing of animals and folks.

“These investigations will assist us to be taught extra in regards to the transmission dynamics between mink, different animals across the farms and folks,” the CDC mentioned. “At the moment, there isn’t any proof that animals play a major function within the unfold of SARS-CoV-2 to folks.”

Coronavirus is believed to have first jumped from animals to people in China, probably through bats or one other animal at a meals market in Wuhan, though many excellent questions stay.

In Wisconsin, about 5,000 minks have died on two farms, State Veterinarian Darlene Konkle mentioned.

One farm is composting the lifeless minks to eliminate the carcasses with out spreading the virus, Konkle mentioned. Authorities are working with the second farm to find out tips on how to eliminate the minks, and lifeless animals are being saved in a steel container within the meantime, she mentioned.

“They’re principally in a steel container, a roll-off sort container, that’s sealed off at this level,” Konkle mentioned.

Michigan declined to reveal what number of minks have died, citing privateness guidelines.

US authorities are urging farmers to put on protecting gear like masks and gloves when dealing with minks to keep away from infecting the animals.

State officers mentioned they’re working with the USDA to find out whether or not farmers can promote the pelts of contaminated minks. The pelts are used to make fur coats and different gadgets.

“It’s our want and definitely the house owners’ want to have the ability to use these pelts,” Konkle mentioned.

The coronavirus has additionally contaminated cats, canine, a lion and a tiger, based on the USDA. Consultants say minks seem like probably the most vulnerable animal to this point.

“No matter we study mink goes to assist perceive the virus throughout species,” Taylor mentioned. “It’s going to offer us a greater response to folks to cease this pandemic.”

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