(ORDO NEWS) — Some unusual news came from Dutch scientists – a fur farm worker in the Netherlands contracted COVID-19 after contact with minks grown for the fur industry. This conclusion was reached by Dutch scientists during the analysis of the outbreak on four farms in North Brabant. I note that this is the world’s first outbreak of coronavirus on a fur farm.
The person in question started to work healthy, but at that moment the infection on the farm was raging with might and main. He has had a mild form of COVID-19 and is now feeling well, writes Spanish El Pais. According to the researchers, this is the first confirmed case of human infection from an animal, since the genome sequences of the virus are almost identical.
Mink farms and coronavirus
According to the Federation of Cattle Breeders in the Netherlands, there are about 140 fur farms in which at least 800,000 fertile mink females live. The industry should disappear by 2024 for ethical reasons. In fact, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture reported an outbreak of coronavirus on a fur farm in April.
COVID-19 infection was confirmed in minks living on two fur farms in the province of North Brabant. A test for coronavirus in animals was carried out after some individuals had breathing problems. The results led to limited access to farms. In an official letter from Dutch Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten, cited by Reuters, the ministry mistakenly considered the transmission of infection from animals to humans impossible.
Do COVID-19 animals get sick?
If you closely follow the news, you probably know that at the moment there have been several cases of infection of animals with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19. So, in the USA, tigers and lions became infected with a coronavirus from a zoo keeper, more about which can be found here. Also confirmed cases of infection of cats and dogs from their owners. In addition to domestic animals, ferrets were susceptible to infection, and intraspecific transmission of infection among cats and ferrets was confirmed in laboratory conditions. However, evidence has still not been obtained that the infection is transmitted directly from animals to humans.
COVID-19 is mainly transmitted by airborne droplets. This means that the virus is contained in tiny droplets that are released from the respiratory tract of an infected person by coughing, sneezing, or simply communicating.
Let me remind you that today the main version of the COVID-19 outbreak is considered to be the transmission of the virus in a natural way from animal to human. Researchers consider bats, hosts of the SARS-CoV-2 genetic brothers, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronaviruses and MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome) to be a natural host. As an intermediate host of the new coronavirus, scientists are considering pangolins – funny animals that poaching has endangered. This is because the virus found in pangolins is 91% similar to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which fuels the hypothesis that the new coronavirus has passed from bats to humans using an intermediate host.
Minks are intermediate hosts of COVID-19?
But some researchers have a different opinion and call the main source of outbreaks of raccoon dogs – predatory nocturnal animals the size of a fox. In China’s fur farms, these animals are raised in the millions, and SARS has already been discovered in the past. The British newspaper The Guardian quotes the director of the Institute of Virology of the Berlin Hospital Charite Christian Drosten:
Raccoon dogs are a huge industry in China, where they are bred on farms and also caught in the wild and all because of fur. If someone gave me several hundred thousand dollars and freedom of movement around China to find the source of the virus, I would look for places where raccoon dogs are bred.
But can minks be an intermediate host of COVID-19? According to the researchers, to be completely sure of this, you will have to compare the genetic code of the virus with samples taken from all people who work or are related to the farm, or have suffered a disease. A Wageningen research team also discovered the presence of coronavirus in farm cats, so the Dutch Ministry of Health has expanded testing for other animals, in particular pigs. The ministry believes that this will help to figure out ways to infect animals and people. Well, we will wait for the results!
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