More than 1 million minks have been killed on farms in Spain and the Netherlands due to an outbreak of coronavirus among the furry animals. According to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, there has been coronavirus outbreaks on 26 and counting Dutch mink farms.

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The novel coronavirus has been detected in a number of animals including dogs, cats and tigers, although none of these animals has been proven to infect humans. However, scientists are now investigating the outbreak of a coronavirus among minks on farms in Spain and the Netherlands to determine whether these animals may have infected some humans. The outbreak of mink infections in Spain and the Netherlands is believed to have started from a human, although officials are not certain. It is believed that the virus spread from workers to the minks.

Related: Animal rights groups work to “Open Cages” of animals on fur farms

An outbreak was discovered at one mink farm near La Puebla de Valverde in Spain in May. Seven of the 14 employees tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the closure of the farm. Two other employees tested positive after the farm had been shut down.

Due to the widespread infections in mink farms, over 1.1 million minks have been killed for the fear that they may spread coronavirus to humans. Because the virus strain affecting these animals is similar to the one affecting humans, there is a possibility of the minks spreading the virus to humans, according to Wim van der Poel, a veterinarian and professor at Wageningen University & Research.

The World Health Organization has noted that the spread of the coronavirus on mink farms could have transmitted both from humans to the animals and from animals to humans. However, the organization says that such an occurrence is limited.

“This gives us some clues about which animals may be susceptible to infection, and this will help us as we learn more about the potential animal reservoir of (the virus),” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove of WHO.

Via Chicago Tribune

Image via Derek Naulls