SALT LAKE CITY (Aug. 17, 2020) – Today, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Service Laboratory (NVSL) announced the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in mink in the United States. Five infected mink were identified at two Utah mink farms. SARS- CoV-2 is the animal virus linked to COVID-19 in humans.
The Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UVDL) completed necropsies on several dead animals from the two mink farms after the mink operations reported unusually high mortality rates in their mink populations. The samples were tested at the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University. From there, the samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories for final conformational testing. The affected mink farms have been completely quarantined to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
“My office is dedicated to containing SARS-CoV-2 by implementing stringent biosecurity measures where needed. We believe that our early detection of the virus will prove beneficial in the long run” said State Veterinarian Dr. Dean Taylor.
The two affected Utah mink farms also reported cases of COVID-19 in their staff members. However, there is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in transmitting the virus to humans. As it now stands, due to limited information and research, the risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to humans is considered low.
Other species of animals within the United States have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, but these are the first confirmed cases in mink in the U.S. Earlier this year the virus was detected internationally in mink in the Netherlands.
The USDA announces cases of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 in animals each time it is found in a new species. All confirmed cases in animals are posted at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/sa_one_health/sars-cov-2-animals-us.