Spain orders culling almost 100,000 mink after COVID-19 outbreak
Aragón Government ordered 92,700 mink to be culled following COVID-positive tests. Its Public health authorities said the origin of the outbreak was still unclear after seven farm workers –and 87% of the mink- were infected.
The outbreak in Puebla de Valverde (Teruel), part of the north-eastern Aragón region, was discovered after a farm employee's wife contracted the virus in May. Her husband and six other farm workers have since tested positive for the disease.
The mink were isolated and monitored closely after the workers became infected. But when tests on 13 July showed that 87% of the animals were infected, regional authorities ordered for all 92,700 of the mink to be culled.
Officials suspect the virus first reached the farm through a worker who passed it on to the animals. But the Agriculture regional minister, Joaquín Olona, said it was not completely clear if “transmission was possible from animals to humans and vice versa”.
“We are absolutely certain that the virus is present in these animals and community transmission between mink is taking place”, Mr. Olona stressed, “despite the fact that the animals do not show abnormal behaviour, nor is there any increase in natural mortality or apparent signs of pathology”. He has also made it clear that “the sole purpose of slaughter is to avoid public health risks”.
The farm exports its pelts to the Russian market mainly. It is a modest business with an income of 1.5 million euros a year and a 20,000 € profit in 2019
Spain has 38 mink farms: 31 in Galicia and the rest in Castilla y León, Aragón, Basque Country and Valencia, producing 750,000 pelts per year. Spain is the seventh largest European producer.