A bipartisan proposal in the United States House would prohibit the farming of mink fur in the US. This is an effort to stem probable mutations of COVID-19. This is also something researchers have stated could be sped up when the virus transmits among animals. The bill introduced this week is courtesy of Reps. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
The bill proposes to ban the export, import, sale, transport, or purchase of mink in the US. According to researchers, the prevalence of the novel coronavirus among animals could accelerate the number of mutations in the virus prior to it potentially being transmitted to people.
In 2020, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control released new recommendation to curb the prevalence of the coronavirus between humans and minks. The agency cautioned that when the novel coronavirus begins spreading on a mink farm, the large numbers of animal infections means COVID-19 could accumulate mutations more swiftly in minks and transfer back into the human population, reported US News.
Denmark recorded also in 2020 12 people ailing of a variant of the coronavirus that had distinct genetic alterations also seen in mink.
According to Mace on Friday, "What we want to do is ban the inhumane practice of farming mink for fur. At the same time, it's also a public health crisis, so it helps fix both of those situations. Knowing that there are variants, and being someone who cares about the humane treatment of animals, this is sort of a win-win for folks. And I believe that you'll see Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the aisle work on this together," reported CBS Fox 59.
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Fur Commission USA, a nonprofit representing American mink farmers, remarked there are approximately 275 mink farms in 23 states throughout the US. They produce an estimated 3 million pelts annualy. That amounts to a yearly value of over $300 million.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a mink on a Michigan farm and a few people were infected with COVID-19 that contained mink-connected mutations. This was something officials suggested that mink-to-human transmission may have transpired.
There have been numerous coronavirus cases in the United States related to mink. In December 2020, a mink caught outside an Oregon farm was positive for low-level COVID-19. According to state officials, they thought the animal fled from a small farm already under quarantine due to a novel coronavirus outbreak among mink and humans.
The transmission between minks and humans is probable, according to CDC officials. However, they said, there is no evidence that minks are playing a major role in the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 to people.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), reports of mink-related coronavirus cases are concerning. However, further studies are required to understand the implications for vaccines and treatments, as reported by BBC.