No need to cull Dutch mink despite Danish coronavirus mutation: experts

Mink on a fur farm. Photo: Dzīvnieku brīvība via Flickr
Mink on a fur farm. Photo: Dzīvnieku brīvība via Flickr

Health experts in the Netherlands have said there is no reason to bring forward the planned cull of all mink on Dutch mink farms before the next March deadline, despite the discovery of a mutant coronavirus strain in mink on Danish fur farms.

The World Health Organisation said on Friday is looking into biosecurity at mink farms following the decision by Denmark to cull all 17 million mink on the country’s fur farms because a mutated version of coronavirus has spread to people who work on them.

However, Dutch government advisors say the situation in Denmark does not make it necessary to cull the remaining mink on Dutch fur farms ahead of schedule. Ministers agreed in August that this year will be the last time mink will produce young for their fur and that all farms must close after the current breeding period.

‘The advice is not changing because the short term risk to public health for people living close to farms and the rest of the population is very small,’ a spokesman told the Financieele Dagblad.

Dutch researcher Arjan Stegeman also told the paper that the Danish developments do not ‘indicate Dutch policy should change at present’. Stegeman is leading the team currently researching the spread of coronavirus on Dutch fur farms on behalf of the government.

Denmark says the cull, and an immediate regional lockdown are necessary to minimise the risk of the new form of the virus taking hold.

Coronavirus was first established on mink farms in the Netherlands in the early spring and has now spread to 69 of the 110 fur farms in the country. The most recent infection, in Sevenum, was confirmed last week.

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