U.S. Discovers First Case of Coronavirus in Free-Ranging Wild Mink

U.S. Discovers First Case of Coronavirus in Free-Ranging Wild Mink.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Monday that it had confirmed the first known case of the coronavirus in a wild animal, a mink, in the country. 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 at the time it may be possible 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 had been 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. Mink are known to escape from mink farms and become established in the wild.

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Tony Winterburn

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