The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Administration (MAST) will start to carry out COVID-19 screenings on Iceland’s mink farms, in light of a mutation of the virus in Denmark, Vísir reports.
Sigríður Gísladóttir, a specialist vet at MAST, says there is no reason to believe that the mink population in Iceland has the virus. However, the Danish Prime Minister announced yesterday that all mink in Denmark, almost 17 million in all, should be destroyed and disposed of due to a mutation in the COVID-19 virus that has been detected in the animals and can be transmitted to humans. The Prime Minister said the situation was “extremely serious” and could delay efforts to produce a vaccine.
There are 1,150 mink farms in Denmark, with infections confirmed in just over 200 of them. “We have been following the news closely since it first arrived about the infection of mink farms”, says Sigríður. MAST has sent farmers recommendations on tougher disease control measures, and say that it’s vital for fur farmers to maintain these measures as much as they can. Farmers were also asked to report as soon as the slightest suspicion of illness arose among their animals, or if infection was diagnosed. These risk assessments have, however, changed in light of the news from Denmark. “We have no suspicion that there are infections in Icelandic mink, we only have to change our assessment and have decided to go out and screen mink farms, as a precaution.”
According to Sigríður, the best time to take the samples from the mink is whilst their are being killed for fur, as it offers an opportunity to collect a large number of samples in one go. The process will begin in the next few days.
MAST’s website does suggest that there is a small chance of transmission to the wild mink population, where human contact is minimal. There are 9 mink farms in Iceland, and a total of 15,000 mink.
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