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Oregon mink farm put under quarantine after first cases of SARS-CoV-2 confirmed

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Oregon Dept. of Agriculture

Risk of spreading to humans considered low, agencies say

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Service Laboratory has confirmed 10 cases of SARS-CoV-2 in mink at one Oregon farm, the fourth state to report them, the Oregon Department of Agriculture said Friday.

The NVSL confirmed all 10 samples submitted by the ODA came back positive for SARS-CoV-2, the animal virus linked to COVID-19 in humans.

ODA State Veterinarian, Dr. Ryan Scholz, immediately placed the farm under quarantine, meaning no animal or animal products can leave the farm until further notice.

“We have been engaged with the Oregon mink industry for some time, providing information on biosecurity to prevent the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 and were ready to respond,” Scholz said. “The farmer did the right thing by self-reporting symptoms very early and he is now cooperating with us and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in taking care of his animals and staff. So far, we have no reports of mink mortalities linked to the virus but that could change as the virus progresses.”

Due to HIPPA and biosecurity concerns ODA and the Oregon Health Authority are not releasing the location of the farm, which is also reporting cases of COVID-19 among its staff.

In response, Dr. Emilio DeBess, OHA public health veterinarian, recommended the farmer and staff self-isolate.

In addition, Dr. DeBess and his team is working closely with those affected to ensure they have the necessary personal protective equipment and supplies and can follow COVID-19 guidance and have sufficient access and instruction on how to properly use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hand sanitation procedures.

“Worker safety is critical to protect people and animals on mink farms,” DeBess said. “Our best weapon against the virus right now is education. We are providing testing, specific workplace guidance and support, and supplying additional PPE to the farmer, the employees and their families to help reduce further spread of the virus. All Oregonians must do their part and wear a face covering, stay six feet apart, avoid gatherings and wash their hands often.”

ODA and OHA will continue to monitor the farm, the employees and their families. Using the Response & Containment Guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both agencies will help guide farm operations with worker safety and on-farm biosecurity as a primary focus.

This year, the virus was detected in mink internationally in seven countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Spain, and in the United States in Utah, Michigan and Wisconsin. 

Other species of animals within the United States have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Per the CDC and USDA-APHIS, there is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in transmitting the virus to humans. The risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to humans is considered low, the agencies said.

The USDA announces cases of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 in animals each time it is found in a new species. All confirmed cases in animals are posted here.

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Article Topic Follows: Environment

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