First case of the coronavirus detected in the wild
The first known case of the novel coronavirus in a non-captive wild animal has now been confirmed, according to an alert issued by the United States Department of Agriculture. A wild mink in Utah tested positive during screening of wildlife around fur farms with outbreaks, it says.
The strain of the virus in the wild mink is “indistinguishable” from that in infected mink on farms around the state, according to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, the USDA division that conducted the tests.
This mink was trapped in the “immediate vicinity of one of the affected farms,” says Utah state veterinarian Dean Taylor, and was the only animal caught in the area to test positive.
“Outbreaks at mink farms in Europe and other areas have shown captive mink to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and it is not unexpected that wild mink would also be susceptible to the virus,” says USDA spokesperson Lyndsay Cole. “This finding demonstrates both the importance of continuing surveillance around infected mink farms and of taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus to wildlife.”
It’s unclear how the wild mink may have come into contact with infected mink on a fur farm.