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9 mink test positive for COVID-19, several hundred dead at Taylor Co. farm

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 9:12 AM CDT
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MEDFORD, Wis. (WSAW) - The National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirms dead mink at a Taylor County mink farm have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. Kevin Hoffman, Public Information Officer, Division of Animal Health tells NewsChannel 7, nine mink initially tested positive for the virus, however, several hundred have died.

“Specimens were sent in for testing to the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic laboratory. There were nine mink that confirmed positive,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman explained by email the situation was fluid so an exact number was not available.

According to a news release, this is the first confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection among Wisconsin’s mink population.

Wisconsin is the second state with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 at a mink farm; Utah confirmed its first cases on Aug. 17. There is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 to humans. However, people infected with the virus can spread it to mink and other animals.

“It’s just important to remind people that it’s not something we’re seeing. There’s no evidence to suggest that. There’s no need for a concern or anything like that. But that being said, this is still a new virus and we are exercising those same precautions that you do any place else,” Hoffman added.

“We quarantined the farm so we know that there are no animals that are moving off the farm or animal parts for that matter moving off the farm. That’s not a concern right now. Just to work on that site and make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect the animals that are still healthy and compost those that have been lost,” Hoffman explained.

As far as disposal, Hoffman said they’re working with the farm to do on-site composting.

The NVSL confirmed the positive result after preliminary testing was conducted by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has quarantined all animals on the farm, meaning no animals or animal products may leave the premise. As this is an active investigation, no information about the farm or parties involved will be released.

People suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are encouraged to avoid contact with pets and other animals while they are completing their home isolation to protect the animals from infection.

According to a Sept. 24, DATCP Board Meeting agenda on crop production, Wisconsin continues to be the leader in the U.S. for mink pelt production and females bred.

The report stated Wisconsin’s pelt production in 2019 totaled 1,016,220 pelts. Utah was the second-largest producing state with 556,710 pelts. Nationwide, mink pelt production during 2019 totaled 2,704,200 pelts, down 15% from 2018.

Wisconsin’s production was down 1% in 2019 and accounted for 38% of the nation’s total pelt production.

Female mink bred in Wisconsin to produce kits in 2020 totaled 107,670, down 56% from last year. Wisconsin accounted for 30% of the U.S. total females bred. The value of U.S. pelts produced during the 2019 crop year was $59.2 million, down 30% from $84.3 million a year ago. The average price per pelt for the 2019 crop year was $21.90, down $4.70 from $26.60 in 2018

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