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Health

Denmark to cull up to one million mink due to risk of coronavirus contagion

FILE PHOTO: Minks are seen in their cages in a mink farm in Jyllinge near Copenhagen, Denmark, October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark will cull around 1 million mink after finding further coronavirus infections among the animals at farms that breed them for their fur, authorities said.

The Nordic country is the world’s largest producer of mink and had previously culled animals on farms hit by infections, but outbreaks have persisted.

Fresh cases have been registered at 41 mink farms and another 20 were believed affected, totalling up to 1 million minks, Environment and Food Minister Mogens Jensen said at a press briefing on Thursday evening.

As a precaution, the culling will include farms situated within 8 km (5 miles) of a farm with infected mink.

“My main focus is on ensuring, that the...mink farms do not become an infection risk for people, and therefore the government has decided to cull the mink,” Jensen said.

In May, Spain ordered the culling of all 93,000 mink at a farm to prevent human contagion after finding that most of the mink there were infected with the coronavirus.

The Netherlands reported a similar outbreak and undertook a cull after two people were reported to have been infected by mink, though such cases of animal-to-human transmission are believed to be extremely rare.

There have also been occasional cases of zoo animals and house pets coming down with the coronavirus during the global pandemic, with their owners the likely cause of infection.

(This story refiles to amend attribution in paragraph 3)

Reporting by Tim Barsoe; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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