The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has announced that a mink farm in the state is now under quarantine after the owner of the farm reported COVID-19 symptoms in the animals and farm workers. In a press release on Friday, the department stated that it received samples from 10 of the animals and all 10 turned out to be positive for coronavirus.
The ODA stated that it immediately placed the farm on quarantine and until further notice, no animal or animal product can leave the farm. The workers at the farm have also been urged to self-isolate since many of their colleagues have tested positive for the virus.
“We have been preparing for this kind of situation for a while, and we’ve been communicating with our mink farms and helping them prevent an outbreak on their farms,” Dr. Ryan Scholz, the department’s veterinarian stated.
Scholz explained further that the farm owner reported the situation early and has been following recommendations of the ODA as well as those of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) about the proper way to handle the outbreak. The veterinarian explained that so far, none of the affected animals have died but that might change with time because of the mortality rates that are being recorded in mink farms in other states and countries, CNN writes.
The OHA also explained that one of its public health veterinarian groups is working with the affected farm to ensure that the workers have enough protective gear and other important supplies so that they can follow the recommendations of the two departments.
“If the workers are not protected and safe then things can escalate very fast,” Dr. Emilio DeBess, a veterinarian with the OHA explained. “What we need most right now to combat the outbreak is to educate the farm owner and farmworkers. We are testing them, providing recommendations and support as well as more PPE to them and their families to curb the spread of the outbreak.”
The Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Spain, and Sweden as well as three states in the U.S (Utah, Wisconsin, and Michigan) have reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in mink farms leading to the death and culling of millions of the animals which are reared for their furs.
The Danish government announced earlier this month that it has embarked on the culling of all of its approximately 17 million mink to stop the spread of a mutated strain of the virus. In farms in Wisconsin and Utah, over 10,000 of the animals have died from the virus. Farmers in Utah reported the death of 8,000 mink as a result of COVID-19 complications.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture both agree that animals do not pose a risk by transmitting the virus to humans.