Sumary of Denmark to cull mink herd over coronavirus mutation fears – here’s what the science says:
- The Danish government has ordered the cull of the nation entire farmed mink herd to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2 after the scientists found a mutated strain of the virus in some of the animals..
- SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is just one of a very large family of viruses called the Coronaviridae..
- As SARS-CoV-2, now the most famous member of the family, has transmitted readily in human populations, finding the virus cropping up in other species has not been much of a surprise..
- Laboratory studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 can infect monkeys, cats, ferrets, rabbits, foxes and hamsters, among others..
- But it is clear that human-to-animal transmission happens in many zoonotic pathogens – and SARS-CoV-2 is no exception..
- How we found coronavirus in a cat At the beginning of April, while battling the first wave of SARS-CoV-2 across Europe, SARS-CoV-2 infections in minks were reported in the Netherlands..
- In Dutch mink farms, minks in close quarters provided a breeding ground for SARS-CoV-2 to transmit, and many of the animals started to show a range of mild through to severe respiratory symptoms..
- By April 23, SARS-CoV-2 infections were confirmed not only in minks but also in farmworkers, suggesting SARS-CoV-2 hopped back across the species barrier once more..
- It is clear SARS-CoV-2 transmits well in minks, and with cases of transmission back to mink farmworkers further culls have been necessary..
- Genomes generated from the SARS-CoV-2 virus sampled during these events support many introductions of SARS-CoV-2 from infected humans into mink populations with very subtly different lineages of virus in circulation on different farms..
- Reports from Denmark have been accompanied by claims of new and dangerous mutations arising in a subset of mink SARS-CoV-2 spilling back into human circulation..
- Just as SARS-CoV-2 mutates during human transmission, the same is true of minks – or indeed in any other animal SARS-CoV-2 infects…