UTAH — The novel coronavirus has killed nearly 8,000 mink on Utah fur farms in the past 10 days, multiple media outlets reported.
Although the state veterinarian Dr. Dean Taylor said people are not at risk of contracting the virus from the mink outbreak, nine sites in three counties are quarantining as a precaution, USA Today reported.
“We genuinely don’t feel like there is much of a risk going from the mink to the people,” said Taylor, who is investigating the outbreak.
Taylor told CNN that the COVID-19 infections were first detected in the creatures - known for their silky, luxurious pelts - in August, not long after farmworkers fell ill in July, meaning initial research indicates the virus was transmitted from humans to animals.
“It feels like a unidirectional path,” he told the network, noting testing is still being conducted.
Meanwhile, no animals have been euthanized in Utah because of COVID-19, and it does not appear necessary, Taylor told USA Today.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, mink join cats, dogs, a tiger and a lion as the only confirmed animals with COVID-19 infections in the United States, CNN reported.
According to Fur Commission USA, a mink farming trade group, the dead animals' fur will be processed to remove any traces of the virus and then used for coats and other garments. More than 3 million mink pelts are produced in the United States each year, USA Today reported.
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