U.S. finds first case of coronavirus in wild animal, a Utah mink

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BORDING, DENMARK NOVEMBER 07: A mink at farmer Stig Sørensen’s estate where all minks must be culled due to a government order on November 7, 2020 in Bording, Denmark. Like many other owners of mink farms, Stig Sørensen has been forced to cull all his 34.000 minks due to a government decision made on Wednesday. Sørensen says that he is sad but also angry because he feels that the government has made an unjustified and unfair decision. His farm is situated so only part of it is within the 7.5 KM zone from an infected farm and none of his mink have tested positive for the coronavirus. Even so, they are regarded as infected and must all be culled. He also feels that he and his colleagues have been let down by the Danish Government, both in terms of handling the culling and slow information about how they will be compensated. He and most in the industry are demanding compensation according to the rules of expropriation, but Sørensen says that so far the government has talked about compensation per culled mink to a price per skin based on farmers’ average price in 2017 and 2018, which was an all-time low. Denmark, the world’s largest mink fur producer, is to mass cull some 16 -17 million minks after mutated forms of coronavirus spread to humans. Some 215 mink farms in Jutland region are infected with this type of coronavirus, and therefore a regional lockdown has been announced to curb the infection. (Photo by Ole Jensen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters)  â€” The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday that it confirmed the first known case of the coronavirus in a wild animal, a mink.

The discovery increases concerns about outbreaks in mink as the virus has killed more than 15,000 farmed mink in the United States since August.

Global health officials are investigating the potential risk the animals may pose to people after Denmark last month embarked on a plan to eliminate its farmed mink population of 17 million, warning that a mutated coronavirus strain could move to humans.

The USDA said in a notice that it confirmed the case in a “free-ranging, wild mink” in Utah as part of wildlife surveillance around infected farms.

Several animals from different wildlife species were sampled and all tested negative, the USDA added.

The agency said it notified the World Organisation for Animal Health of the recent case but said there is no evidence the virus has been widespread in wild populations around infected mink farms.

“To our knowledge, this is the 1st free-ranging, native wild animal confirmed with SARS-CoV-2,” the USDA said in the notice.

The virus has also been found in zoo tigers and household cats and dogs. 

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