The first known Covid-19 infection in a wild animal was confirmed in a Utah mink located near an infected fur farm.

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There is currently no evidence that the coronavirus is circulating or has been established in wild populations surrounding the infected mink farms

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed the first known case of the coronavirus in a wild animal, a mink. In an alert to the International Society for Infectious Diseases, US officials said a wild mink had tested positive around an infected mink farm in Utah during the screening of wildlife around fur farms with outbreaks.

Farmed mink are known to be susceptible to the virus, with cases reported at fur farms in the US and Europe. But this is the first known detection of the coronavirus in a “free-ranging wild mink.” It is unclear how the wild mink may have come into contact with infected mink on a farm.

“The USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) has confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) by real-time RT-PCR and sequencing of a nasal swab collected from a free-ranging, wild mink sampled in Utah. To our knowledge, this is the first free-ranging, native wild animal confirmed with SARS-CoV-2. APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) has notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of this detection in a wild mink as part of the epidemiological study in the surrounding area of the infected farm,” read a statement. It added, “The USDA ASPIS conducted wildlife surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in meso-carnivores and other species around infected mink farms in Utah, Michigan, and Wisconsin, between August 24-October 30, 2020. Surveillance was conducted as part of “one health” investigations involving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and State Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Health.”

There is currently no evidence that Covid-19 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, noted officials. “The sequence of the viral genome obtained from the wild mink sample at NVSL was indistinguishable from those obtained from the farmed mink,” they explained.

Thomas DeLiberto and Susan Shriner from USDA-ASPIS explained that the American mink is a “semiaquatic species of mustelid,” native to North America. “The high susceptibility of this mustelid species to SARS-CoV-2 has become apparent in mink farming countries; most outbreaks reported so far are from Denmark, Netherlands, and the US. This susceptibility has also been demonstrated experimentally. 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,” they added.

The USDA has recommended that to prevent the potential establishment of a “virus reservoir,” efforts to. Brinkwire Brief News.

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