Dutch government orders culling of mink amid COVID-19 transmission fears

The Dutch government this week ordered the culling of mink at nine farms where animals have been infected with coronavirus, fearing they could form a reservoir of disease infecting humans after the country’s current outbreak has passed, Reuters reports.

“Clearing the infected farms is in the interest of both human health and animal health,” Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten said in a letter to parliament, adding the cull would commence on Friday and farmers would be compensated.

Each farm houses several thousand of the ferret-like animals, which are bred for their fur.

“The Animal Welfare Commission has been informed and will see to it that the animals are treated in a responsible manner and killed,” Schouten said.

Coronavirus outbreaks have occurred on eight farms in the Netherlands, and Wednesday’s letter confirmed a ninth.

“The expectation is that further infections will be seen in the coming weeks,” Schouten said.

Last month her ministry reported two cases where mink were believed to have transmitted the disease to humans, in what are the only animal-to-human cases on record since the global outbreak began in China.

The outbreaks on the Dutch mink farms are all thought to have originated from their human handlers and then spread among the minks. The country’s National Institute for Health (RIVM) has said that the risk of animal-to-human and human-to-animal transmissions remains “minimal.”


Read also: Can coronavirus be transmitted between humans and animals?


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