According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the first known case of coronavirus in a wild animal in the U.S. has been reported in Utah.
USDA civil servants said a wild mink in Utah tested positive for the coronavirus while monitoring wildlife around mink farms that have experienced outbreaks. The USDA has screened species around mink farms in Utah, Michigan and Wisconsin for several months over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic to determine if the virus has spread to nearby wildlife.
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The National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) said the viral genome of the wild mink was indistinguishable from that of infected minks on farms across the state.
“The [NVSL] has confirmed SARS-CoV-2 through real-time RT-PCR and nasal swab sequencing collected from a free-roaming, wild mink sampled in Utah, “USDA officials wrote.
“To our knowledge, this is the first free-roaming native wild animal confirmed with SARS-CoV-2.”
The mink was found in the immediate vicinity of one of the affected farms and is the only wild animal caught in the area to test positive.
“There is currently no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is circulating or has been identified in wild populations around the infected mink farms,” the USDA wrote.
Mink farms in particular have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. In Denmark and other parts of Europe, millions of minks have been culled from farms across the country following large-scale outbreaks.
The virus has been found in other captive wildlife, including tigers, lions, and snow leopards, as well as dogs and cats.
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