Mink housed on Michigan farm test positive for coronavirus

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FILE PHOTO: Minks are seen in their cages in a mink farm in Jyllinge near Copenhagen, Denmark, October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The virus that causes COVID-19 in humans has been detected in mink housed on a Michigan farm, the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced Friday.

The recent discovery of the coronavirus in mink at the unnamed farm is not the first time the disease has been found in the animal in the United States, officials said. In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the first confirmed cases of the virus in mink at farms in Utah. There has since been a confirmed case in Wisconsin.

After several mink recently exhibited signs of illness and died on the Michigan farm, the owner submitted specimens from the animals for diagnosis. The Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory completed necropsies on two of the affected animals, which tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus.

There is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans in the state, Michigan officials said. Investigations into how the mink contracted the virus are ongoing.

Upon learning of the mink infection, Republican U.S. Rep. Fred Upton expressed concern about how the outbreak could impact public health as well as its possible effect on Michigan agriculture.

“We have learned about potential cases of minks infected with SARS-CoV-2 at a Michigan farm,” Upton noted in a letter to the USDA. “This must be addressed to ensure the safety of farmers, their workers, and the surrounding community.”

The farm is self-contained, has few staff, and prohibits domestic animals from being onsite, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. That makes it unlikely the virus moving to wildlife, pets, or people, officials added.

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