By: Autumn Gertz
Image courtesy of Gillian Floyd on Flickr
After reporting alarmingly high mortality rates among minks, five live mink from two different Utah mink farms have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Upon the Utah Veterinary Lab completed necropsies on several of the animals, some tested presumptive positive for the virus. These samples were then sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories for confirmatory testing . Utah is the second largest producer of mink pelt in the country .
Workers at the farm have also tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Additionally, two farm workers in Denmark have caught the virus from mink . Since scientists believe that the coronavirus causing COVID-19 most likely originated in bats and quickly became zoonotic, more investigation into this outbreak is needed to see if mink have contributed to the COVID-19 outbreak .
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been discovered on several mink farms in the Netherlands, Spain, and Denmark earlier this year , suggesting that minks are particularly susceptible to the virus. Like humans, infected mink can be entirely asymptomatic but develop severe long-term complications as a result of the virus . Several of these mink outbreaks are giving scientists the chance to understand the virus’ ability to mutate with incredible resilience across species and populations. This raises many alarm bells due to evidence of other zoonotic diseases growing more and more virulent as they evolves .