Coronavirus impacts the farming sector in the USA

Mass culling required following animals infected with COVID 19

06/11/20

Coronavirus impacts the farming sector in the USA

Mass culling required following animals infected with COVID 19

In the early days of the initial COVID19 outbreak there were reports of household cats being able to become infected with the virus. In the following months the virus was confirmed to have crossed species once again this time with more devastating consequences.

In July, mink farms across Europe including Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands were the first to report infections in their animals. Unlike most agricultural epidemics which are spread from contact with infected animals, the Coronavirus has been able to successfully infect directly from human to animal. Evidence proving the ease of this cross infection became confirmed, over 4000 miles away by American mink farmers in August 2020. Creating a massive wave of animal deaths, caused by the animals becoming infected by the SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes COVID 19 in humans.

First confirmed in Utah on the 6th of August following an abnormal number of deaths on a mink farm. A biosecurity emergency was declared and sample animals sent to the ‘veterinary pathology department’ of the Utah State University.

The causes of death in the mink was similar to humans. The lungs being found to be wet, heavy and angry upon autopsy all recognised signs of Pneumonia. In fact these symptoms matched those in infected mink across Europe. The fact that this type of pneumonia was not widely found in mink until this spate of infections indicates it could only have come from the workers infecting the animals.

These outbreaks have confirmed the infection can pass from humans to mink and back again. The initial infections in Europe were traced back to workers bringing the Coronavirus onto the farm before infecting up to 90% of all animals leading to the culling of hundreds of thousands of animals during the first phase a number which has since grown into the millions.

One of the key dangers in these cross infections is that the infection can be harboured in the animals indefinitely leading to the risks of it spreading to humans being a constant threat. This requires consistent and safe destruction of all culled animals.

Mink farmers across the USA are now urgently reviewing their biosecurity facilities to ensure any outbreaks are able to be rapidly dealt with to prevent infecting staff and spreading the disease alongside protecting livestock on each farm.

The US produces more than 3 million mink pelts a year worth in excess of $300,000,000. The risk of Covid 19 infection makes these unfit for public usage and all must be safely disposed of, financially decimating the sector through additional costs and loss of earnings.

It is still unknown just how easily the virus can transfer across species although there were multiple confirmed cases in Denmark, the Netherlands as well as the USA of workers being in contact with infected mink that have since been confirmed to contracting the Coronavirus.

The virus is continuing to devastate worldwide as Denmark culls a further 17 million animals after a further mutation in the virus leads to increased cross species contamination. Tis has even led to a full regional lockdown as the virus has mutated and may be resistant to future vaccines.

As we have learned, one of the safest ways to control and overcome any outbreak quickly is through being prepared. Having an Addfield incinerator onsite is one of the safest ways to manage your daily fallen stock whilst providing an essential solution in times of crisis. In these instances farmers would be able to rapidly and safely dispose of fallen animals without risking the virus spreading any further.

At Addfield we have a recognised global heritage in treating animal viral outbreaks. Successfully helping to combat the foot and mouth outbreaks of the 1980s, BSE during the 1990s and avian flu in the 2000’s. We are currently in the process of optimising a number of our agricultural incinerators to be able to be installed on Mink farms to securely manage the infectious livestock.

For further information visit the following news sites:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/covid-19-hits-us-mink-farms-after-ripping-through-europe

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-outbreaks-at-european-mink-farms-shows-virus-may-pass-from-animals-to-humans-12040878

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-54818615

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