Coronavirus outbreaks on Utah farms leave 10,000 minks dead
Nearly 3 million mink pelts were produced in the U.S. last year
At least 10,000 minks have died in Utah from coronavirus as the pandemic ravages vulnerable farms, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food said Friday.
Though the virus has spread quickly among mink populations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said, "there is currently no evidence that animals, including mink or other mustelids, play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans."
Most of the deaths have been among older minks, which are valued for their luxurious pelts.
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State officials say they are trying to mitigate the spread.
"The affected mink farms have been quarantined to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has implemented stringent biosecurity measures and is working diligently with other organizations to address these outbreaks," a spokesman for the state Agriculture Department told Fox News.
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In Wisconsin, several hundred minks also were infected there, the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison reported Thursday.
Coronavirus was first detected in minks in the U.S. in August, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that two Utah farms were affected.
Farmers were already aware that mink were susceptible to coronavirus as there were already outbreaks on farms in the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark.
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About 2.7 million mink pelts were produced in the U.S. last year, according to the USDA. Wisconsin produces more pelts than any other state, followed by Utah.
The industry as a whole was valued at $59.2 million last year, down 30% from $84.3 million in 2018.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.