Scientists study coronavirus outbreaks among minks in Europe

Scientists study coronavirus outbreaks among minks in Europe

Coronavirus break outs at mink breeding farms in Spain and the Netherlands have researchers digging into how the animals got infected and if they can spread it to people


ARITZ PARRA and MIKE CORDER Associated Press

August 2, 2020, 12: 26 PM

5 minutes read

Coronavirus break outs at mink farms in Spain and the Netherlands have scientists digging into how the animals got infected and if they can spread it to individuals.

In the meantime, authorities have killed more than 1 million minks at reproducing farms in both countries as a preventative measure.

The infection that initially infected people in China late last year originated from an animal source, most likely bats, and later spread out from individual to individual, as other coronaviruses had done in the past. Some animals, consisting of cats, tigers and pet dogs, have actually picked up the new coronavirus from people, however there hasn’t been a recorded case of animals spreading it back to people.

The break outs amongst the minks on farms in the Netherlands and Spain likely started with infected employees, although authorities aren’t particular. But it also is “possible” that some workers later on captured the infection back from the minks, the Dutch federal government and a scientist said, and researchers are checking out whether that was the case and how much of a threat such a spread might be.

The outbreak at the Spanish mink farm near La Puebla de Valverde, a town of 500 individuals, was discovered after 7 of the 14 employees, consisting of the owner, evaluated positive in late May, stated Joaquín Olona, local chief of agriculture and environment. 2 other employees got contaminated even after the operation was closed down.

More than 92,000 minks were bought eliminated at the farm in the Aragon region of northeastern Spain, with nine out of 10 animals approximated to have contracted the virus.

After the Dutch outbreaks started in April, professor Wim van der Poel, a vet who studies viruses at Wageningen University and Research, determined that the virus pressure in the animals resembled the one flowing among people.

” We assumed it was possible that it would be transmitted back to individuals once again,” the virus specialist stated, and that’s what appeared to have occurred with a minimum of 2 of the infected workers.

Richard Ostfeld, a scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, said that if confirmed, these would be the first known circumstances of animal-to-human transmission.

” With the proof for farmed mink-to-human transmission, we absolutely require to be interested in the potential for domesticated animals that are contaminated to pass on their infection to us,” Ostfeld stated by email.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says some coronaviruses that infect animals can be infected human beings and after that spread out between individuals, however it includes that this is rare.

Both the World Health Organization and the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health are studying the transmission of the infection in between animals and individuals. Numerous universities and research study institutes likewise are analyzing the problem.

The WHO has actually kept in mind that the transmission on the mink breeding farms could have occurred both ways. But WHO’s Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said at a news conference last month that such transmission was “really minimal.”

” This offers us some hints about which animals might be vulnerable to infection and this will help us as we learn more about the possible animal reservoir of (the infection),” she stated, describing cases in the Netherlands and Denmark, another major manufacturer of mink fur.

While scientists believe the infection stemmed in bats, it might have gone through another animal prior to infecting individuals. A WHO team is presently in China, planning to study the concern.

More than 1.1 million minks have been eliminated on 26 Dutch farms that recorded outbreaks, according to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority. The federal government announced Thursday that minks at a 27 th farm also were infected and would be eliminated.

The Netherlands, which has some 160 mink farms, is the world’s fourth-biggest manufacturer of the prized fur after Denmark, China and Poland, according to Wim Verhagen, director of the Dutch federation of fur farmers. Spain has 38 active mink reproducing operations, the majority of them in northwestern Galicia.

Both Spain and the Netherlands have actually tightened up hygiene procedures at mink farms and banned transportation of the animals and sees to the buildings where they are kept.

China, which produces about a 3rd of the mink fur market, and the United States have not reported any virus outbreaks in minks or in animals at other farms.

Corder reported from The Hague. Associated Press writers Maria Cheng in London and Ken Moritsugu in Beijing contributed.


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