A worker at a fur farm in the Netherlands is suspected of contracting COVID-19 from an infected mink, according to Dutch authorities.
One staff member had a virus that showed similarities to the virus found in one of the mink at the farm.
“Based on this comparison and the position of that form of the virus in the family tree,” a statement from the Dutch government reads, “the researchers concluded that it is likely that one staff member at an infected farm has been infected by mink.”
At least three Dutch farms have coronavirus-infected mink living on-site, according to Lisa Gaster of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.
Animals in other countries have also tested positive for the virus, including domestic dogs and cats, tigers, and lions. It is still unclear how coronavirus will interact across certain species.
“The take-home message now,” virologist and veterinarian Brian Bird told National Geographic, “is we are still learning a lot about COVID-19, this coronavirus, and the animals it can infect.”
While researchers scramble to learn more about how coronavirus spreads across species, fur farms in the Netherlands are slowly being phased out, with all facilities required to close by 2024. Changes like this, however, may not come soon enough to avoid another pandemic, and the global fur trade is active in other parts of the world — including China, where officials are considering allowing fur farms to circumvent a newly-imposed ban on the wildlife trade — with no guaranteed end in sight.
If you haven’t yet, sign Lady Freethinker’s petition urging the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture to maintain its commitment to animal welfare and human health and not reclassify minks, raccoon dogs and foxes from “wildlife” to “livestock.”