CAPE TOWN- Denmark will cull its entire mink population of around 17 million animals after a mutated form of Covid-19 was found on mink farms and infected at least 12 people.
The country is the world's biggest producer of mink fur with over 1,000 mink farms. Its main export markets are China and Hong Kong.
Prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, said at a press conference earlier this week that the mutated virus poses a "risk to the effectiveness" of a future Covid-19 vaccine and could spread to other countries.
Denmark has 51 753 confirmed Covid-19 infections and 733 deaths.
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Elsewhere, Spain culled 100 000 mink in July after cases were detected on a farm. In the United States, nearly 10 000 minks at nine fur farms in Utah died last month of Covid-19.
Senior emergency officer at the World Health Organization’s European office in Copenhagen, Catherine Smallwood, said during a media event that mink appear to be susceptible to a mutated strain Covid-19 and are “good reservoirs” for the disease.
“There is a risk of course that this mink population could contribute in some way to the transmission of the virus from minks into humans, and then onwards from humans to humans," she said.
The culling of mink began last month, after cases on 207 mink farms were detected. The new mink strain which has infected up to 12 people could also be linked to around 400 other Covid-19 cases.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, the virus has also been detected in more than 50 animals including cats, dogs, tigers and lions.
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