New Delhi: Mink farms in the Netherlands have commenced a government-ordered culling of around 10,000 mink across the country over concerns that the animals infected with coronavirus could transmit the infection to humans, reports The Guardian.
According to the Netherlands Food & Wares Authority, mink infected with Covid-19 have been found on 10 Dutch farms. The authority’s spokesperson Frederique Hermie said, “All mink breeding farms where there is an infection will be cleared, and farms, where there are no infections, won’t be.”
The World Health Organization, on May 27, had confirmed that it was possible that Dutch farmers had been infected by the mink, in what could be the first instance of animal-to-human transmission since the infection first originated in China.
The initial infection was reported in two farms near the city of Eindhoven, where the disease was discovered in April among mink that are bred for their valuable fur.
Dutch Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten said two workers likely contracted Covid-19 on a mink farm while stressing that the risk of further spread of the coronavirus from the mink to humans remains low.
The culling of mink involves farmworkers in protective gear using gas on mink. The bodies of the mink will be sent to the disposal plant after which the farms will be disinfected.
Rights groups call for end to mink fur trade
Animal rights groups opposed to mink fur trade said the outbreak is another reason to close all farms.
“We are calling for the 24 countries around the world that still allow mink farming to very rapidly evaluate the situation and evidence coming out of the Netherlands,” said Claire Bass, executive director of the Humane Society International.
China, Denmark and Poland are the largest mink fur producers across the world. According to the Dutch Federation of Pelt Farmers, there are 140 mink farms in the Netherlands, exporting $146 million worth of fur every year.
In 2013, the Dutch Parliament had ordered the closure of all mink farms by 2024. Slovenia and Serbia have also passed legislation to ban all fur farming in the country. Countries like Norway and the UK have already banned mink farming for fur. The state of California in the US has banned the sale and manufacture of all fur products.
Other animals culled due to Covid fears
The Dutch mink are not the only animals to have been eliminated due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meat processing plants and hatcheries, across the world, have been forced to kill birds due to shut down and lack of business.
ThePrint had earlier reported that Covid-related rumours had led to a huge loss to poultry businesses, which forced farmers to kill their birds or abandon them.
Due to the dip in business, poultry farmers have been finding it difficult to sustain their existing stock with the rising fodder and other maintenance-related costs.
Several other animals have also been reportedly infected by Covid-19. On 4 June, a dog was reportedly infected with coronavirus in the US. The disease has also been spotted in tigers, lions and cats. Also, early reports of animal-to-human transmission in China in February had led to cats and dogs being abandoned in Wuhan.