A first contaminated mink farm in France

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France has in turn detected the presence of COVID-19 in one of its four mink farms, south-west of Paris, where the 1000 fur animals were slaughtered.

• Read also: “Mutant” virus in mink: scientists between caution and vigilance

• Read also: Hundreds of thousands of mink infected with COVID-19 slaughtered

“The slaughter of all the thousand animals still present on the farm and the elimination of products from these animals” were ordered on Sunday, the ministries of Agriculture, Health and Ecological Transition announced.

Of the other three farms, one is unharmed and “analyzes are still underway in the last two”, the results of which are expected later this week, a statement said.

Several European countries have already reported contamination of mink farms, mainly Denmark, with the recent discovery of a variant virus, but also the Netherlands then Sweden, Greece, and isolated cases in Italy and Spain .

Cases have also been detected in the United States.

In France, reinforced surveillance and security measures (masks, hand washing, etc.) were put in place in these facilities in May, after an alert launched in April by the Dutch, the government said on Sunday.

Analyzes were then carried out in mid-November as part of a program led by the National Health Security Agency (ANSES), which pinpointed the case of this breeding.

The results of the tests carried out on the breeders of the four sites were found to be negative. Reinforced surveillance has been put in place for the breeder concerned and his family, now “contact cases”.

Mink can in fact contract the disease, but also re-infect humans.

To date, it is the only known species to be the source of interspecies contaminations, in this case to humans and cats, points out ANSES, which in a recent opinion pointed out that today animals play no role in the spread of COVID-19.

The government thus emphasizes on Sunday the importance of barrier gestures in the context of mink farming: to protect animals, but also staff.

With some 20,000 mink farmed in France, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, France is however far from the problem of Denmark, the world’s leading exporter with a herd of 15 to 17 million heads.

The case also took on a whole new dimension when Copenhagen ordered the slaughter of all these animals in early November. At issue: the fear of a mutation of the coronavirus which, transmitted to humans, would render the vaccines under development ineffective.

Today, the authorities in this country believe that the mutant strain is “very likely extinct”, but widespread culling is still ongoing, to the chagrin of Danish breeders who took to the streets on Saturday.

In France, a sequencing analysis of the virus will be known by the end of the week “and should make it possible to exclude any contamination by the SARS-CoV-2 variant”, one indicates.

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