In Denmark, the authorities are now trying to stop a major outbreak of the coronavirus in mink.
– A total of 80 mink farmers have been affected, and we estimate that over one million mink have been infected by the corona virus in total, says emergency manager Nikolas Kühn Hove at the Danish Food Safety Authority to Dagbladet.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration corresponds to the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.
– It is very, very, very serious, continues the emergency manager, who says that the infected minks make up almost 8 percent of all mink found in Denmark.
According to Hove, work is now being done to map transmission routes.
– We know that the main infection comes from humans, but there is also another route of infection, which is unknown. We can not explain that all the infection on the mink farms comes from humans, therefore there must also be another route of infection, he says.
Mink can thus be infected with the coronavirus by humans. But the infection can also go the other way, says Hove.
– At least twice, people have been infected by mink on farms. We can also say with certainty that 150 people working on these farms have contracted the virus, but we can only state that two have been directly infected by mink, he says.
– We do not know how the others have been infected, the emergency manager adds.
According to the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, it has also been established that mink in Spain and the Netherlands have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 by people with covid-19.
Symptoms of covid-19 in mink are diarrhea, vomiting, or respiratory symptoms or increased temperature that cannot be attributed to any other cause.
Hove in the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration says that excess mortality is very low in Denmark.
– We see a very small excess mortality. The symptoms are the same in mink as in humans, but not as severe, he says.
Still, he is very worried.
– When the virus is in a herd of 10,000 mink, there is a risk that the virus will mutate. It is very serious, says the emergency manager.
– Our biologists, who study the virus, have already found some mutations in the protein that sits on the surface of the virus, he adds.
The mink farms can develop into pure virus factories, and this in turn can affect the effect of a vaccine, says chief physician Anders Fomsgaard, responsible for virus research and development at the Statens Serum Institut, to Danmarks Radio.
– Mutates only in mink
– We have seen that in mink there are some mutations of the virus, which only happens in mink and not in humans. There are more and more of these mutations, in step with the more farms that become infected, says Fomsgaard.
According to the superior, the mink in North Jutland are infected with a special variant of the coronavirus.
– The concern is that viruses that have mutated in mink come out into society and infect people with a virus strain that is insensitive to the vaccines that they are now working on developing.
– It is the vaccines that will save us and ensure herd immunity, so that we can return to normal, he continues.
In an attempt to stop the infection, it has been decided that all mink within a radius of 7.8 kilometers from an infected mink farm will be killed.
Emergency manager Hove tells Dagbladet that very strict infection control rules have also been introduced for everyone who works on mink farms in Denmark.
– We now have a massive monitoring of the mink farms, and all the farms must submit virus samples continuously, he says.