Netherlands to cull mink at farms after coronavirus cases

Netherlands to cull mink at farms after coronavirus cases

Mink farm workers in the south of the Netherlands believed to have contracted the coronavirus
Farm workers in the south of the Netherlands were believed to have contracted the coronavirus from mink, which could be the "first known cases of animal-to-human transmission," the World Health Organization had said. (AFP/JEAN-PIERRE MULLER)

AMSTERDAM: The Dutch government intends to cull the mink at farms where animals have been infected with the coronavirus, broadcaster RTL reported on Wednesday (Jun 3).

A Dutch government source confirmed the report was accurate, but she could not say more until the details and reasoning have been sent to parliament.

The RTL report said "thousands" of mink, which are bred for their fur, will be culled.

Mink coats are displayed in a shopping mall
Mink coats are displayed in a shopping mall. (REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo)

Coronavirus has so far been detected on eight farms in the Netherlands. The Agriculture Ministry last month reported two cases where mink are believed to have transmitted the disease to humans, in what are the only animal-to-human cases on record since the global outbreak began in China.

View of the mink farm in the Netherlands
This general view shows barrier tape cordoning off buildings of a mink farm at Beek en Donk, eastern Netherlands on Apr 26, 2020, after tests showed that animals within had been infected with COVID-19. (Photo: AFP/ANP/Rob Engelaar)

READ: Mink infected two humans with coronavirus, says Dutch government

Human transmission of the virus to cats has been reported in several countries. The outbreaks on the Dutch mink farms are all thought to have originated from human handlers.

The country's National Institute for Health (RIVM) has said that the risk of animal-to-human and human-to-animal transmission remains "minimal."

The Dutch mink farm outbreaks were first reported in April, when keepers noticed some animals having difficulty breathing, prompting a wider investigation.

On May 28, Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten said that a decision on culling the affected farms would depend on an analysis of whether the mink could form a lasting source of potential infection for people or animals.

A law banning mink farming in the Netherlands was passed in 2013, and the remaining 120 farms are due to cease operations in 2023. The Dutch industry group says most pelts are sold in European countries and to North America, with China an important growth market.

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Source: Reuters/de