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#EndFurTrade: Oregon mink farm has COVID-19 outbreak, campaigners call for fur trade to end as millions are killed

There is no evidence that animals are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19 to people. Rather, infected workers are introducing the virus to minks on farms, and spreading it among the minks.

TRACY LOEW: An Oregon mink farm has reported an outbreak of COVID-19 among animals and workers. Oregon Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Andrea Cantu-Schomus declined to say which county the farm is in or how many workers have tested positive, citing federal health privacy rules. The farm has about 12,000 animals, she said. Eight of Oregon’s 11 mink farms are in Marion County… ODA took samples from 10 of the sick mink, and all came back positive for SARS-CoV-2, the animal virus linked to COVID-19 in humans. Cantu-Schomus was unable to say how many mink were sick, but said the 10 were a sample of the population.

On Nov. 23, ODA placed the farm under quarantine, meaning no animals or animal products can leave the farm. On the same date, the Oregon Health Authority asked all workers on the farm to self-isolate, Cantu-Schomus said… Oregon has the nation’s fourth-largest farmed mink industry, after Wisconsin, Utah and Michigan. All three of those other states have had outbreaks on mink farms…

All of the mink in the Oregon outbreak appear to have recovered, Cantu-Schomus said. ODA will test the mink 7-10 days after symptoms resolve, and, if necessary, continue testing every 14 days until no more infected mink are found… “It is suspected that infected workers introduced SARS-CoV-2 to mink on the farm, and the virus then began to spread among the mink,” Cantu-Schomus said… Cantu-Schomus was unable to say how many farmed mink there are in Oregon.

“There is no evidence that animals, including mink, are playing a significant role in the spread of COVID-19 to people,” she said. “Currently in the U.S., there is no evidence of mink-to-human spread. However, investigations are ongoing”… In Wisconsin, about 3,400 farmed mink have died over the past month after contracting the virus. And in Utah, about 10,000 mink have died since August…

Outbreaks in farmed mink have been reported in several U.S. states and countries. Earlier this month Denmark announced it would kill all 17 million of the mink raised there after confirmation that 12 people had been infected with a mutated strain of COVID-19 that had spread from mink to humans. That strain has not been found elsewhere… In addition to Denmark and the United States, COVID-19 infections have been reported in farmed mink in the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Italy and Greece, according to the World Health Organization. SOURCE…

BASIT MAHMOOD: While news of the decision to gas and burn 17 million mink in Denmark to halt the spread of a COVID-19 mutation from humans to animals made global headlines, what has often been missed is that the mink would have been killed regardless because of demand for their fur. The only difference now is that the killing is taking place in the full glare of the media, but animal rights charities say it also provides an opportunity to end the fur trade, an opportunity that may not come again. The culling of mink during the pandemic is just the tip of the iceberg in what one animal rights worker says is a lifetime of pain and suffering for the animals.

“The life of a mink on a fur farm is one of deprivation and monotony,” Wendy Higgins, of the animal welfare charity Humane Society International, tells Newsweek. “Often the hallmarks of fur trade existence – animals with infected eyes, self-inflicted wounding, cannibalism – are all stereotypical behavior. Deprivation in their lives leads to mental decline and at the end of that they are gassed.” Higgins along with other animal rights groups says the spread of COVID-19 on mink farms wouldn’t have taken place if the fur trade was banned and are now calling for an end to the trade once and for all…

Dyrenes Beskyttelse, an animal rights group in Denmark says it has witnessed heartbreaking cullings that have gone wrong. Britta Riis, the CEO of the charity, told Newsweek: “The scale and haste with which this is being done in mind, we have contacted Danish authorities to ensure that the laws protecting animal welfare are being upheld… This happens year after year. We find the whole mink industry highly unethical. Millions of animals should not be crammed into tiny cages their entire lives just to culled, skinned and end up as coats.” Higgins too hopes the cull of mink will force people to think twice before buying fur. “If anyone had any illusions up until this point that fur was a luxury item they will have been disavowed of that belief by looking at the conditions and killing methods that we’re seeing in Denmark,” she says. SOURCE…


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