Saturday, June 6, 2020

Dutch authorities ordered 10,000 mink to be culled in case they became a 'reservoir' of COVID-19 — but animal rights activists have postponed their deaths

 Dutch authorities ordered 10,000 mink to be culled in case they became a 'reservoir' of COVID-19 — but animal rights activists have postponed their deaths

Authorities in the Netherlands ordered the mass slaughter of 10,000 mink for fear that the animals could harbor the coronavirus, and spark a new wave of human infections.

The order was made after scientists there confirmed that the animals — a source of high-end fur products — could infect humans with COVID-19.

The cull was meant to take place on Friday, but was postponed after a last-minute legal challenge by animal rights campaigners. The order has been postponed while the Dutch legal system considers the claim.

The Dutch agriculture minister, Carola Schouten, had argued that the deaths were a necessary evil. In a letter to the country's parliament, she said: "Clearing the infected farms is in the interest of both human health and animal health."

Scientists do not have incontrovertible proof of the spread between mink and people. But Schouten has argued that the evidence is convincing enough to justify the cull.

The suspected COVID-19 transfer from mink to humans on farms in the south of the Netherlands was first reported by the Dutch government on May 19.

Mink in the Netherlands are farmed to provide expensive furs to customers. But the industry is already on borrowed time — mink farming is due to end in 2023 when a ban mandated by a 2013 law comes into effect.

The transmission initially came from human farm workers and infected the mink, according to Arjan Stegeman, a veterinary epidemiologist at Utrecht University cited by Bloomberg who is investigating the outbreak.

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