French mink farms under surveillance after Covid outbreak

The four controversial farms have been under surveillance since June after the Netherlands, and now Denmark, confirmed a ‘mutated’ virus outbreak 

6 November 2020
By Hannah Thompson

Mink farms in France have been under “surveillance” for possible Covid-19 contamination, it has emerged, after a farm in the Netherlands reported an outbreak in June.

The ecology ministry confirmed the news on November 5, after Denmark reported a new outbreak of a suspected Covid-19 mutation at one of its farms.

In a statement, the ministry said: “Biosecurity measures are already high in these farms. And we are taking appropriate steps as the situation develops.”

PCR and blood tests are to be done “as a scientific study” in November and December, to track the condition of the farms. This period is usually the slaughtering season for mink that are raised for their fur.

These farms - the operation of which is strongly condemned by animal activists - are already set to close “within five years” in France, according to the ecology minister Barbara Pompili.

 

Danish virus mutation?

The surveillance in France comes after the Netherlands and Spain announced the presence of Covid-19 in their mink farms.

But in Denmark, authorities have warned that the outbreak appears to be of a mutated strain of the virus, which could, they said, threaten the effectiveness of a future Covid vaccination for humans.

The Danish Prime Minister confirmed on Wednesday November 4 that the country was set to slaughter all 15 million mink currently in the country. The farms had been infected by a mutated version of SARS-Cov-2, which was then spread by these animals to 12 people.

Danish authorities even said that the northwest of Denmark was to be placed under stricter restrictions to stop the mutated virus from spreading.

But several scientists in France have said that they were sceptical of the Danish authorities’ remarks, saying that they had seen no scientific data yet to confirm or deny the presence of a particular mutation.

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