As a Born Free USA supporter, I am signing this letter of grave concern with regard to the news of SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreaks in mink fur farms in the United States. I join Born Free USA in calling on state authorities to implement mandatory fur farm testing with the employees, and on both live on-farm animals and on the deceased.
Since June, SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreaks has ripped through Europe, and in August, the first SARS-CoV-2 virus cases were confirmed in two Utah mink fur farms. At that time, it was reported that “the virus is not expected to spread in U.S. farms.” With an explanation of, “Our mink farms are spread out over a much larger area than Europe.” Despite these claims, SARS-CoV-2 virus has now infected nine farms in Utah, one farm in Wisconsin, and one farm in Michigan. Eleven farms in total have now been infected, with at least 12,000+ animals dead from COVID-19.
This is deeply concerning because these 11 fur farms are only the ones that have been reported, and it is more than likely that there are significantly more fur farms that will test positive for the virus. Like humans, mink are highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 virus and can be asymptomatic. This is cause for alarm because of the potential for mink-to-human transmission. A study conducted in The Netherlands confirmed that fur farm workers contracted COVID-19 from mink. Upon genetic testing, the SARS-CoV-2 virus strain in the workers matched that of a mutated strain found in the mink. Additionally, authorities in Denmark are reporting that hundreds of “people had contracted coronavirus associated with the minks.”
To make matters worse, and more terrifying, these mutated strains have now been transmitted to family members of the fur farm workers and then spread to the public, thereby spreading new strains of SARS-CoV-2 virus among humans. This is not only troubling because of the potential of increasing numbers of people testing positive with varying SARS-CoV-2 virus strains, but also because this will significantly diminish the efficacy of any COVID-19 vaccines. Putting not only residents of states with fur farms in grave danger, but also the entire American public – and the continuance of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.
Fur farming is cruel, unnecessary and causes immense suffering to its victims. In the interests of animal welfare and public health, I join Born Free USA in urgently calling on state authorities to implement mandatory fur farm testing with the employees, and on both live on-farm animals and on the deceased.