Denmark authorities are planning to dig up thousands of buried dead mink that were killed to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. Research had shown that the virus jumped from humans to mink and then back to humans. The mutated strain was found in 12 patients. The government had ordered to kill all the minks in fur farms to prevent the virus’s spread.
Hundreds of dead mink emerged from their burial sites, according to Danish state broadcaster TV2. It is believed the gas used to kill them caused the carcasses to swell and resurface, prompting Danish media to dub them “zombie mink.” https://t.co/NUa6fDRkVC— CNN (@CNN) December 2, 2020
‘Zombie’ mink emerge from the graves
Reports have suggested that hundreds of dead mink emerged from their burial sites after the carcasses bloated. It is believed that the gas that was used to kill them caused the dead bodies to swell and resurface. The Danish media has named them “Zombie Mink”.
As per the CNN report, some 17 million mink had been killed by lethal gas and buried in a military zone in Western Denmark. However, after some days, the bodies began to rise to the surface. Denmark’s agriculture minister Rasmus Prehn has suggested that the mink can be exhumed and reburied, but such a move will need environmental clearance first.
Research found human to animal to human virus jump
A study done by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases revealed that SARS-CoV-2 jumped between people and mink. It was dubbed as the evidence of zoonotic transmission. The study was carried out on 16 farms in the Netherlands. The result showed that it was likely the virus jumped from humans to mink and then back to humans.
Scientists are still trying to find the origin of the virus. Different studies have shown that non-human primates, hamsters, bats, and rabbits, along with cats, dogs, and tigers, can get SARS-CoV-2 infection. A recent outbreak in the mink farms added the animal to the list.
Orders to kill farm mink
In May, Netherlands mandated Covid-19 testing in farm animals as they believed mink might have infected humans. The testing led to the killing of 2.9 million mink. In July, Spain had ordered to kill around 100,000 farmed mink after animals on the farm were tested positive for the infection. Mink are widely bred in European countries for fur. In October, a series of Covid-19 outbreaks were reported in Danish farms. The government ordered to kill around a million mink to prevent further spread. In early October, the authorities found mink at 60 farms positive for Covid-19.
Earlier this month, Denmark had ordered all farmed mink to be culled, including the animals in uninfected farms, after finding that 12 people had been infected by a mutated strain of the virus that causes Covid-19, which reportedly passed from humans to mink and back to humans. However, the government has to take back the orders as it has no authority to give such an order. It could only recommend such a move.
Ethical and economic concerns over mink mass killing
A video had emerged that raised concerns over the method of killing the mink. A lone mink was seen wiggling among a box full of dead animals. Another issue with culling is the economic impact. Mink farming provides jobs to around 5,500 people. Mass killing the animals could lead to mass unemployment. The legal, ethical and economic concerns had triggered debates in Denmark over the culling orders.