Utah Mink First In US To Test Positive For SARS-CoV-2

Aug 17, 2020, 1:41 PM | Updated: 8:28 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Authorities have identified five mink at two Utah farms that have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the animal virus that’s linked to COVID-19 in humans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Service Laboratory confirmed the cases are the first to be identified in the United States.

The Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory completed necropsies on several dead mink from the two farms after it was reported that there was an unusually high mortality rate among the mink, according to a statement from the Utah Department of Agriculture. The mink farms have been completely quarantined.

“My office is dedicated to containing SARS-CoV-2 by implementing stringent biosecurity measures where needed,” according to state veterinarian Dr. Dean Taylor. “We believe that our early detection of the virus will prove beneficial in the long run.”

Both mink farms, which are not being named, have also reported cases of COVID-19 among its staff. However, the state notes that there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in transmitting the virus to humans.

“As it now stands according to research, the risk of spreading to humans is considered low,” said Dr. Taylor.

Ryan Holt runs a farm with about 7,000 mink in Utah County. He said it’s not unusual for animals to get the virus, so he is not worried.

“The state has told us to not be concerned about this,” said Holt. “The animals that have contracted it — which include a list from lions and tigers and cats and dogs that have contracted COVID — have recovered fine.”

Holt said they are taking every precaution necessary to keep the staff and animals safe, but that mink farms act as their own quarantined system — so the public should not worry.

“The sheds are all enclosed. The housing is all enclosed. The animals are not out there. There is no interaction between the animals and the other animals,” said Holt.

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Utah Mink First In US To Test Positive For SARS-CoV-2