Dutch police have sealed off two mink farms in the south of the country after it was revealed some of the animals were suffering from the coronavirus after apparently being infected by their human keepers.
The farms affected are reportedly located east of the city of Eindhoven in North Brabant which is regarded as one of the country’s hotspots and worst hit by the virus.
Latest statistics from the Johns Hopkins University shows that the Netherlands has 38,040 confirmed cases of infection with 4,491 deaths.
Police sealed off the entrances of the two farms at Milheeze and Beek en Donk with red-and-white tape and advised locals not to walk or cycle anywhere within around 400 metres of the two affected mink farms.
The effect animals were tested after showing signs of illness including shortage of breath and gastric problems and medics are trying to work out the source of the infection by testing employees.
After the confirmation of the infection, Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority Minister (NVWA) Carola Schouten ordered on Sunday that mink farmers, vets and people in research institutions need to notify them immediately if they notice breathing problems and or an increase in mortality in minks.
The minister indicated that there were no plans to extend the order to any other livestock animals on the farms as there were no indications that these were also affected.
Researchers are currently at both farms taking samples to see which of the animals are infected to map the course of the disease for further research. They were also taking dust samples to see how far the virus was spreading outside the radius of the farm.
Mink breeding is already controversial in the Netherlands with a legal challenge at the country’s highest court ordering that it should eventually be phased out by 2024.
Beek en Donk mayor Frank van der Meijden said he had spoken to the local farm owner where there were 7,500 adult animals, and steps were being taken to make sure that they remain cared for. At the moment there was reportedly no suggestion that the animals would be culled.
Apparently the other farm with infected animals at Milheeze has 13,000 minks.
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