General, Research, Technology

Minks are intermediate hosts of coronavirus?

Some unusual news came from the DutchScientists - An employee of a fur farm in the Netherlands became infected with COVID-19 after contact with minks grown for the fur industry. This conclusion was reached by Dutch scientists during the analysis of the outbreak on four farms in North Brabant. I note that this is the world's first outbreak of coronavirus on a fur farm. The person in question started to work healthy, but at that moment the infection on the farm was raging with might and main. He has had a mild form of COVID-19 and is now feeling well, writes Spanish El Pais. According to researchers, this is the first confirmed case of human infection from an animal, since the genome sequences of the virus are almost identical.

These charming creatures do not have to be someone else's coat

Mink farms and coronavirus

According to the Federation of Cattle Breeders in the Netherlands, there are about 140 fur farms in which at least 800,000 fertile mink females live. The industry should disappear by 2024 for ethical reasons. Actually about an outbreak of coronavirus onDutch fur farming Ministry of Agriculture reported back in April. In total, about 20 thousand minks are infected in the country, and access to farms is limited.

In April, the Ministry of AgricultureThe Netherlands reported that COVID-19 infection was confirmed in minks living on two fur farms in the province of North Brabant. A test for coronavirus in animals was performed after some minks had breathing problems. The results led to limited access to farms. In an official letter from the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Carola Scouten, cited by Reuters, the ministry admitted that it mistakenly considered the transmission of infection from animals to humans impossible.

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I think no one today will argue that mink farms should close

Do COVID-19 animals get sick?

If you closely monitor the situation with a newcoronavirus, you probably know that there are several cases of infection of animals with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, causing COVID-19. So, in the USA, tigers and lions became infected with a coronavirus from a zoo keeper, more details can be found here. Also confirmed cases of infection of domestic cats and dogs from their owners. In addition to domestic animals, ferrets were susceptible to infection, and intraspecific transmission of infection by cats and ferrets was confirmed in the laboratory. However, there is still no evidence that the infection is transmitted directly from animals to humans.

COVID-19 is mainly transmitted by airborne dropletsby way. This means that the virus is contained in tiny drops that are released from the respiratory tract of an infected person by coughing, sneezing, or simply communicating.

Let me remind you that today the main version of the flashCOVID-19 is considered to be a natural transmission of the virus from animal to human. Researchers consider bats, hosts of the SARS-CoV-2 genetic brothers, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronaviruses and MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome) to be a natural host. As an intermediate host of the new coronavirus, scientists are considering pangolins - funny animals that poaching has endangered. This is because the virus found in pangolins is 91% similar to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which fuels the hypothesis that the new coronavirus has passed from bats to humans using an intermediate host.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing.

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Minks are intermediate hosts of COVID-19?

But some researchers adhere to anotheropinions and called the main source of outbreaks of raccoon dogs - predatory nocturnal animals the size of a fox. In China's fur farms, these animals are raised in the millions, and SARS has already been discovered in the past. The British newspaper The Guardian quotes the director of the Institute of Virology of the Berlin Hospital Charite Christian Droosten:

Raccoon dogs are a huge industry in China,where they are bred on farms, and also caught in the wild and all because of the fur. If someone gave me several hundred thousand dollars and freedom of movement around China to find the source of the virus, I would look for places where raccoon dogs are bred.

But can COVID-19 be an intermediate hostmink? According to the researchers, to be completely sure of this, you will have to compare the genetic code of the virus with samples taken from all people who work or are related to the farm, or have suffered a disease. A Wageningen research team also found coronavirus in farm cats, so the Dutch Ministry of Health has expanded testing for other animals, in particular pigs. The ministry believes that this will help to figure out ways to infect animals and people. Well, we will wait for the results!