MADRID, KOMPAS.com — Mink farms in Spain and the Netherlands have sent scientists looking for answers as to whether the animals could be a source of new coronavirus outbreaks.
Scientists are searching for answers on how the minks became infected with the Covid-19 virus and if the animals can spread it to humans.
Over 1 million minks at breeding farms in Spain and the Netherlands have been killed as a precautionary measure.
The virus that first infected people in China late last year came from an animal source, probably bats, and later spread from person to person, as other coronaviruses had done in the past.
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Some animals, including cats, tigers and dogs, have picked up the new coronavirus from people, but there hasn’t been a documented case of animals spreading it back to humans.
The outbreaks among the minks on farms in the Netherlands and Spain likely started with infected workers, although officials aren’t certain.
But it also is “plausible” that some workers later caught the virus back from the minks, the Dutch government and a researcher said, and scientists are exploring whether that was the case and how much of a threat such a spread might be.
The outbreak at the Spanish mink farm near La Puebla de Valverde, a village of 500 people, was discovered after seven of the 14 employees, including the owner, tested positive in late May, said Joaquín Olona, regional chief of agriculture and environment.
Two other employees got infected even after the operation was shut down.