The Associated Press
7:21 EDT (11:21 GMT) 2, 2020
- Scientists are investigating a mysterious mink coronavirus outbreak.
- After detecting the coronavirus outbreak in the minks of Europe, more than a million have been euthanized.
- How minks were infected and whether they could spread the coronavirus to humans is being studied.
An outbreak of coronavirus in minks from Europe is being investigated by authorities, who had to slaughter more than a million of those animals.
As reported by the news agency AP this Sunday, scientific teams were doing research outbreaks of coronavirus on mink farms in Spain and the Netherlands, and they were trying to determine how the animals were infected and if they could infect humans.
Pending the results of the investigation, authorities in the two countries have slaughtered more than a million fur farm minks as a precaution, the AP said.
The aforementioned news agency recalled that the virus, which started infecting people in China at the end of 2019, comes from an animal, probably bats, and then has spread from person to person as other types of coronaviruses already did. Some animals, such as cats, tigers, and dogs, have been reported to be infected with humans, but there are no documented cases of animals infecting humans.
Coronavirus outbreaks among minks in hatcheries in the Netherlands and Spain probably started with infected workers, although authorities are uncertain. But it is also “plausible” that the animals in turn spread to other workers, according to the Dutch government and an investigator. Scientists are studying whether that was the case and how much threat that contagion would pose, AP said.
The coronavirus outbreak at the mink farm near La Puebla de Valverde, a Spanish town of 500 people, was discovered after seven of the 14 employees, including the owner, tested positive in late May, explained Joaquín Olona, director of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment of the regional government of Aragon. Two other employees tested positive after the farm closed.
In the northeastern region of Aragon, the slaughter of 92,000 minks was ordered, according to media. Nine out of 10 of the animals were estimated to have been infected.
In April, when the outbreaks began in the Netherlands, Professor Wim van der Poel, a veterinarian and virus expert at Wageningen University and Research Center, determined that the strain of the pathogen detected in animals was similar to that circulating among humans. .
“We assumed that it was possible that it would revert to humans,” said the expert, indicating that this appeared to have occurred with at least two of the infected workers.
Richard Ostfeld, a researcher at the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, said that if confirmed, these would be the first known cases of animal-to-human transmission.
“With farm mink contagion testing to humans, we definitely need to be concerned about the potential for infected pets to infect us,” Ostfeld said in an email mentioned by the AP.