Thousands of mink die in Covid-19 outbreaks at US fur farms

Thousands of mink have died at fur farms in Utah and Wisconsin after a series of coronavirus outbreaks.



a small animal in a cage: There are dozens of mink farms like this near Medford, Wisconsin, where one such farm is experiencing an coronavirus outbreak among the animals.


© WISN
There are dozens of mink farms like this near Medford, Wisconsin, where one such farm is experiencing an coronavirus outbreak among the animals.

In Utah, ranchers have lost at least 8,000 mink to Covid-19 among the animals known for their silky, luxurious pelts.

The virus first appeared in the creatures in August, shortly after farmworkers fell ill in July, according to Dr. Dean Taylor, State Veterinarian of Utah. Initial research shows the virus was transmitted from humans to animals, and so far has not seen any cases of the opposite.

“Everything we’ve looked at here in Utah suggests its gone from the humans to the animals,” Taylor told CNN. “It feels like a unidirectional path,” he said, adding that testing is still underway. Utah’s was the first outbreak among

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Also, outside a lab, infection depends mainly on breathing in viral particles from an infected person and normal contact doesn’t necessarily translate into infection for animals. Ferrets have been shown in the laboratory to be susceptible to infection with the virus, and to spread it to other ferrets.

But scientists at Tufts reported, in a paper that has yet to be peer- reviewed, that in one house with 29 pet ferrets and two humans with Covid not one ferret became infected with the virus.

The 29 ferrets roamed freely in the house, and both human adults were ill enough with Covid to show symptoms, so there was ample opportunity for infection. Kaitlin Sawatzki, a virologist at Tufts University and one of the authors of the ferret paper, said, “Isn’t that incredible? It was a beautiful natural experiment.”

The researchers concluded that there could be genetic barriers to infection that are

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