Wild mink tests positive for coronavirus, USDA reports

An American mink in the wild.

The international community has eyes on Utah as the United States Department of Agriculture confirmed that a wild mink found around a mink farm has a genetically identical version of coronavirus as was found in farmed mink.

An alert from the International Society for Infectious Diseases revealed the results of the test on December 13.

“To our knowledge, this is the 1st free-ranging, native wild animal confirmed with SARS-CoV-2,” the alert reads. “There is currently no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is circulating or has been established in wild populations surrounding the infected mink farms. Several animals from different wildlife species were sampled, but all others tested negative. The sequence of the viral genome obtained from the wild mink sample at NVSL was indistinguishable from those obtained from the farmed mink.”

This statement effectively means that though one wild mink was found with the virus, there aren’t indicators to show the virus spreading or taking hold of wild populations. However, that a single mink tested positive is of significance.

“Though escapees from fur farms are known to have become self-sustaining in some countries, so far, no COVID-19 cases have been reported from such animals,” the alert continues. “To prevent the potential establishment of a virus reservoir, efforts to prevent SARS-CoV-2 introduction into and spread within the large North American wild mink population, as well as elsewhere, are warranted.”

Fear mongering isn’t helpful during a public health crisis, but correctly identifying unnecessary risks is a needed task. The risks created by intensive fur farming are clearly documented internationally, and biosecurity measures meant to prevent spread of the virus in Canada have failed at least once.

It is time for fur farming to end in B.C. and the rest of Canada. To take action in British Columbia click here. To take action throughout Canada click here. International supporters can take part in another petition by clicking here.

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