In a release, the Oregon Department of Agriculture announced that the mink received a positive test from the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory, confirmed on December 22 after it was captured on December 13.
The mink reportedly only had low levels of the virus in its system.
It reportedly escaped from a mink farm in Oregon that has been under quarantine since ten mink samples tested positive for the coronavirus near the end of November.
A wild mink has tested positive for coronavirus in Oregon. Pictured: A mink in Denmark
The mink in Oregon was one of nine animals to escape from a farm where an outbreak of mink had already occurred – the other animals did not test positive. Pictured: A mink in Denmark
Along with the afflicted mink, three cats and five wild opossums also escaped from the quarantined farm, though none of the other animals tested positive for COVID.
‘It’s beyond outrageous that an infected mink can escape even from a quarantined fur farm, putting an untold range of wild animals at risk of contracting the virus,’ environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity Lori Ann Burd said to The Oregonian.
‘As much as I hope this case of COVID-19 is just limited to the one mink they tested in the wild, we know this virus is highly contagious and that one case quickly grows to many.’
Burd warned in an opinion column on OregonLive that infected mink could ‘not only spread the virus among wild mink but give rise to a mutant viral strain that threatens to compromise our newly minted vaccines.’
Meanwhile, the problem at the farm itself seems to have been quelled, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Only one of 62 mink tested positive for coronavirus on December 7 and none did on December 21, meaning the quarantine is set to end pending the results of a final round of testing.
‘There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is circulating or has been established in the wild,’ reports Dr. Ryan Scholz of the ODA. ‘Several animals from different species were sampled, and all others were negative. Still, we are taking this situation very seriously and continuing to survey and trap near the farm.’
Of the mink still at the farm in question, none have recently tested positive and the quarantine on the farm is almost over. Pictured: A wild mink in Minnesota
The outbreak comes after Denmark ordered 17 million mink to be culled to prevent mink-to-human infections after 12 cases in the country occurred
Dr. Scholz continued, ‘Also, we have asked USDA to run additional tests on the trapped mink, including sequencing the viral genome and a DNA test to ensure we know exactly where this mink came from.’
The minks at the farm are believed to have contracted the coronavirus from a human, which is why the ODA is not releasing the name of the farm; they are protecting the private health status of an individual.
The Capital Press reports that there are only 11 permitted mink farms in the state, though, with eight in Marion County, two in Clatsop County, and one in Linn County.
The only states that produce more pelt than Oregon are Wisconsin, Utah, and Idaho.
Concerns over the mink outbreak in Oregon come on the heels of devastation with the mink community in Denmark.
After 12 people in the country became COVID-19 positive from exposure to minks, the country ordered the 17 million mink in the country to be killed.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is now apologizing for the decision, though, as the dead minks are beginning to surface from the ground.
There is evidence that the the coronavirus has the ability to mutate, which could negatively affect the vaccines being rolled out across the globe.
South Africa and the United Kingdom are among the countries who have announced new strains of the virus circulating within their respective borders.
The United States, meanwhile, is still attempting to get a hold on the initial outbreak of COVID-19.
There have now been over 18 million cases of coronavirus in the country, with the death toll reaching 330,279 people.
There have now been over 18 million COVID-19 cases in the United States since March