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Oregon mink farm has COVID-19 outbreak after advocates warned of danger in state

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SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon mink farm has reported an outbreak of COVID-19 among animals and workers.

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Oregon Division of Agriculture spokeswoman Andrea Cantu-Schomus declined to say which county the farm is in or what number of staff have examined constructive, citing federal well being privateness guidelines. The farm has about 12,000 animals, she mentioned. 

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Outbreaks in farmed mink have been reported in a number of U.S. states and international locations. Earlier this month Denmark introduced it could kill all 17 million of the mink raised there after affirmation that 12 folks had been contaminated with a mutated pressure of COVID-19 that had unfold from mink to people. That pressure has not been discovered elsewhere. 



a cat sitting on top of a metal cage: A mink at a Denmark estate where all minks must be culled due to a government order on November 7, 2020. Ten samples from mink in Oregon were found to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, the animal virus linked to COVID-19.


© Ole Jensen / Getty Photographs
A mink at a Denmark property the place all minks have to be culled on account of a authorities order on November 7, 2020. Ten samples from mink in Oregon have been discovered to be constructive for SARS-CoV-2, the animal virus linked to COVID-19.

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Oregon has the nation’s fourth-largest farmed mink business, after Wisconsin, Utah and Michigan. All three of these different states have had outbreaks on mink farms. 

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The Oregon farmer reported mink with signs to ODA on Nov. 19, Cantu-Schomus mentioned.

ODA took samples from 10 of the sick mink, and all got here again constructive for SARS-CoV-2, the animal virus linked to COVID-19 in people. Cantu-Schomus was unable to say what number of mink have been sick, however mentioned the ten have been a pattern of the inhabitants. 

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On Nov. 23, ODA positioned the farm below quarantine, that means no animals or animal merchandise can depart the farm. 

On the identical date, the Oregon Well being Authority requested all staff on the farm to self-isolate, Cantu-Schomus mentioned.  

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State and nationwide environmental teams have been elevating alarm about doable infections Oregon’s mink business, the Statesman Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported last week.

“This was so foreseeable,” mentioned Lori Ann Burd, with the Heart for Organic Range, one of many teams urging Oregon to take motion. “We’ll actually be following up with the company to demand solutions and to seek out out what they’re doing to mitigate this outbreak and public well being danger.”

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In letters to Gov. Kate Brown and state companies, the teams requested for fast inspections of Oregon’s mink farms, in addition to quarantines and a phased buy-out of the business.

At the moment, state officers mentioned they didn’t intend to take any of the teams’ suggestions. Oregon’s state veterinarian has been speaking with mink farmers in regards to the outbreaks, Cantu-Schomus has mentioned.

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“We have now been engaged with the Oregon mink business for a while, offering info on biosecurity to forestall the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 and have been prepared to reply,” State Veterinarian Ryan Scholz mentioned in a written assertion Friday.

“The farmer did the best factor by self-reporting signs very early and he’s now cooperating with us and the Oregon Well being Authority in taking good care of his animals and employees,” Scholz mentioned. “Thus far, now we have no stories of mink mortalities linked to the virus however that might change because the virus progresses.”

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In Wisconsin, about 3,400 farmed mink have died over the previous month after contracting the virus. And in Utah, about 10,000 mink have died since August.

Along with Denmark and the USA, COVID-19 infections have been reported in farmed mink within the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Italy and Greece, based on the World Well being Group.

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The entire mink within the Oregon outbreak seem to have recovered, Cantu-Schomus mentioned. ODA will take a look at the mink 7-10 days after signs resolve, and, if vital, proceed testing each 14 days till no extra contaminated mink are discovered. 

The pattern measurement will likely be considerably bigger and can guarantee with a 95% confidence stage that if the virus was current it could be detected, she mentioned.  

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“It’s suspected that contaminated staff launched SARS-CoV-2 to mink on the farm, and the virus then started to unfold among the many mink,” Cantu-Schomus mentioned. 

ODA is working with OHA, the Oregon Division of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Division of Agriculture and the Facilities for Illness Management to research transmission dynamics amongst mink, different animals across the farm, and other people, she mentioned.  

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Final week, ODA officers mentioned that they had no plans to do inspections or take a look at mink until signs have been reported. Cantu-Schomus was unable to say Friday whether or not that’s nonetheless the case. 

Michael Whelan is government director of Medford-based Fur Fee USA, a nationwide nonprofit representing mink farmers. 

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He mentioned the group is providing free COVID-19 testing to farm operators and staff. 

“All we are able to do is simply hold reminding the farmers that that is critical and so they must display all people who get wherever close to the mink,” Whelan mentioned. 

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Cantu-Schomus was unable to say what number of farmed mink there are in Oregon.

“There is no such thing as a proof that animals, together with mink, are enjoying a major position within the unfold of COVID-19 to folks,” she mentioned. “At present within the U.S., there is no such thing as a proof of mink-to-human unfold. Nevertheless, investigations are ongoing.” 

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Comply with Tracy Loew on Twitter: @Tracy_Loew.

This text initially appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Oregon mink farm has COVID-19 outbreak after advocates warned of danger in state

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