The first case of COVID-19 has been discovered in a wild mink, officials have confirmed.
The USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed yesterday its nasal swab collected from a free-ranging, wild mink in Utah tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
It is believed that this is the first free-ranging native wild animal to be confirmed with the particular strain of the virus.
‘All others tested negative’
“There is currently no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is circulating or has been established in wild populations surrounding the infected mink farms,” The USDA wrote.
“Several animals from different wildlife species were sampled, but all others tested negative.”
‘Stop fur farming in its tracks’
President and CEO of Humane Society International Kitty Block said the announcement increases the urgency ‘to end all mink fur farming without further delay’.
“The Swedish National Veterinary Institute says that wild mink and escaped mink from fur farms infected with the virus do not pose an additional risk to humans beyond the ongoing, pervasive threat of person-to-person infection,” Block said.
“But this does not absolve US authorities from quick action to ensure there is no further spread of the virus among mink, both on fur farms and in the wild. And the best—and only—way to do that would be to stop fur farming in its tracks.”
A slew of countries around the world have reported outbreaks of the virus on mink fur farms – with experts warning the COVID-19 variant could spark a new coronavirus pandemic.
The Netherlands has brought forward its plans to permanently close its mink fur farms to March next year – after originally declaring the phase the farms out by 2024.
Denmark – the world’s largest mink producer – said it will cull more than 15 million mink after a mutation of the virus infected 12 people.