An Oregon mink farm has reported an outbreak of coronavirus among mink and farmworkers.
Ten mink samples submitted all came back positive for coronavirus, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) said in a news release on Friday. The farm has been placed under quarantine, meaning “no animal or animal product can leave the farm until further notice,” according to ODA.
The farmer and his staff have been advised to self-isolate after multiple coronavirus cases were reported among workers on the farm, the release said.
“We have been engaged with the Oregon mink industry for some time, providing information on biosecurity to prevent the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 and were ready to respond,” ODA veterinarian Dr. Ryan Scholz said.
“The farmer did the right thing by self-reporting symptoms very early and he is now cooperating with us and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in taking care of his animals and staff. So far, we have no reports of mink mortalities linked to the virus but that could change as the virus progresses.”
A public health veterinarian team is working with those affected by the outbreak by ensuring staff have personal protective equipment and the supplies needed to follow coronavirus guidance, according to OHA.
“Worker safety is critical to protect people and animals on mink farms,” said OHA public health veterinarian Dr. Emilio DeBess. “Our best weapon against the virus right now is education. We are providing testing, specific workplace guidance and support, and supplying additional PPE to the farmer, the employees and their families to help reduce further spread of the virus.”
This year, the virus was detected in mink in seven countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, and Spain, and three US states, Utah, Michigan, and Wisconsin, according to ODA.
Thousands of mink have died at fur farms in Utah and Wisconsin after a series of coronavirus outbreaks. In Utah, ranchers have lost at least 8,000 mink to Covid-19.
There is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in transmitting the virus to humans, according to the CDC and the US Department of Agriculture. The risk of animals spreading Covid-19 to humans is considered low.
The USDA announces confirmed coronavirus cases in animals each time it is found in a new species. All confirmed cases in animals are posted on the department’s website.