Officials on Monday confirmed the first U.S. cases of mink infected with the coronavirus following outbreaks in Europe.
Five infected mink have been identified at two farms in Utah, the Department of Agriculture announced. Testing began after the farms reported unusually high mortality rates among the small animals prized for their fur.
The Utah mink farms have also reported cases among workers. Infected humans can spread the virus to animals during close contact, but there is no current evidence that animals spread the disease to humans, authorities said.
The impacted farms in Utah have been quarantined to stop the spread of the virus.
Scientists believe the coronavirus that first infected people in China initially came from an animal source, probably bats, and later spread from person to person.
Some animals, including cats and dogs, have picked up the coronavirus from people as it spread around the world.
Scientists are studying outbreaks in Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands and exploring whether workers could have caught the virus from minks and, if so, how much of a further threat that type of transmission might pose.
More than 1 million minks were killed on Dutch farms with outbreaks to prevent the spread of the disease.
The coronavirus causes fever and cough in humans that clear up a few weeks for most people, but it can lead to pneumonia and death for some, especially older people and those with underlying health problems.
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Agency: First US virus cases in mink found at 2 Utah farms (2020, August 17)
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