As mass inoculation against COVID-19 begins in the West, grim news about the virus keeps coming in. Just today, the US surpassed 300,000 deaths – becoming the single largest cause of deaths across the country. In the UK, a mutation has been identified.
But now, the wild has been infiltrated as well. The first known case of COVID-19 among wild minks was reported in the US, triggering calls for monitoring wildlife for the spread of coronavirus.
US veterinary officials, in communication with the International Society for Infectious Diseases said that a wild mink from a farm in Utah had tested positive for the virus.
Earlier, cases were reported among farmed minks at fur farms across Europe and the US, which has led to millions of them being culled to limit infection.
However, this is the first reported case among wild mink, or among a “free-ranging wild mink”, raising fears of the zoonotic virus spreading among wild animals.
Even though the infection has been spotted in the wild, there is still no evidence to suggest that it may be passed on from mink to mink outside farms.
In fact, the strain of COVID-19 detected in the wild mink was identical to the strain which were discovered in a mink on a farm close to the wild mink’s location. Even then, no other minks have tested positive for the virus, and surveillance efforts on the ground have been heavily intensified.
According to experts, this implies that humans need to undertake more rigorous surveillance of wildlife and animals to limit the scope of another outbreak, especially as vaccine hopes continue to dampen people’s fears.
It is common for a mink to leave a farm and to live off in the wild on their own. Even then, it could prove be a hazard both to humans and animals if the virus spreads in the wild.
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