Dense populations of potentially unwell animals in unnatural settings are a breeding ground for disease – and a disease that has plagued mink farmers globally has finally hit the world’s second largest fur producer.
The Copenhagen Online Post has reported that Aleutian Disease has broken out across 130 of Denmark’s fur farms, a virus that has ravaged captive mink populations in most other countries, including Canada.
First identified in the 1950s, Aleutian Disease is most commonly found in farmed mink – though it can be transmitted to wild raccoons, skunks, foxes, weasels, and in one study, bobcats. Little is known about the consequence of this disease having full reach into wild populations, however, since most research is directed at farmed mink – where the profit lays.
Once a farm has identified Aleutian Disease in its “herd” the only recommended option is to kill every animal, burn the bedding, and disinfect the entire site. But by this point, fecal matter, urine, saliva, and other potential virus-carrying fluids have made their way off the farm and into the wild.
If the disease spread wreaks havoc on Denmark’s farms the way it did in Nova Scotia’s, the country could face an economic short fall of 10 billion kroner ($1.8 billion CAD).
Of course, there is an easy solution to prevent this kind of economic (and potentially environmental) catastrophe in the future: Denmark could choose to #MakeFurHistory.
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