Fur farms full of sick, distressed and injured animals are virus reservoirs and should be closed immediately to protect public safety, experts warn.
Denmark is killing 17 million mink to further prevent the spread of “Cluster 5”, a mutated version of the virus found in 12 people.
There are fears that the virus could undermine vaccine development.
Over the weekend, dark footage was released on Danish television showing the reality of their fur trade – one of the largest producers in the world.
It showed gassed mink being shoveled into piles ready to burn by an excavator. So far 1.2 million have been slaughtered.
The closure of these farms was welcomed, but activists have pushed for a permanent ban on all farms as the dire conditions in which the animals are kept are breeding grounds for disease – a “health time bomb”.
The Mirror is working with the Humane Society International-UK to stop the sale of fur products in the UK.
Claire Bass, General Manager, said, “Keeping stressed, sick and injured animals together in tiny wire cages has dire consequences for animal health and welfare, but it is now very clear that the fur trade also poses a significant and unacceptable risk to the public Represents health.
“The cramped and dirty conditions create the perfect conditions for viruses to multiply, and it seems that the Covid-19 virus is rapidly mutating among minks.
This is a turning point that governments cannot afford to ignore. It would be grossly irresponsible and short-sighted if the Danish government killed millions of animals every now and then and allowed farmers to refill the same cages a few months later.
“Fur farming is an animal welfare nightmare. We need governments around the world to act quickly and shut down this ailing industry, both by banning fur farming and by banning the sale of fur products.”
PETA Vice President for International Programs Mimi Bekhechi urged Denmark “to immediately ban these pandemic petri dishes – because nobody needs a mink coat, but we need an effective vaccine and an ethical society”.
Every year more than 100 million animals are killed for their fur, including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and rabbit – three every second.
They typically spend their lives in one-square-meter battery cages and are only moved twice – at weaning and on the day of their death.
Mike Moser, former head of the British Fur Trade Association who supports the Spiegel’s campaign, said, “As you walk through the sheds of a typical fur farm, cages are placed right next to each other and food is dropped on top of the cages and drained left.
“The cage floors are wire mesh so that animal feces fall into a pile and fester. Bugs and flies multiply.
It would come as no surprise to me if such unsanitary conditions were an important factor in the rate of spread of the virus in the mink population.
“However, with the advent of the Cluster 5 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Danish mink farms, it is no longer just a matter of animal welfare – the fur industry is now responsible for threats to human health.”
The mutated virus was subsequently detected in minks on a farm in the Netherlands, but did not spread to humans, said Prof. Wim van der Poel, veterinary expert at Wageningen University.
The Netherlands started widespread mink culling after there were a few cases of evidence that people had ingested coronavirus from mink.
The United States, Italy, Spain and Sweden have also reported Covid cases in mink, the World Health Organization has confirmed.
Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergency expert, said, “There is always the potential for this to come back on humans.
Mammalian species like mink make very good hosts, and the virus can develop within these species, especially if they are tightly packed in large numbers. “
Every hospital in the UK has now been instructed to isolate suspected “mink virus” patients to prevent a mutated strain of Covid-19 from spreading to the UK.
A letter to health chiefs, co-signed by Prof. Steve Powis, the NHS medical director, told hospitals that coronavirus patients who recently traveled to Denmark must be isolated, treated in specialist centers and tested.
The UK has banned the entry of all non-resident foreigners from Denmark, while UK citizens are required to isolate for 14 days. Passenger aircraft,
Ships and trucks carrying cargo from Denmark are also not allowed to cross the border.
The government estimates that between 300 and 500 people have come to the UK from Denmark in the past 14 days.
Denmark has reported 214 cases of people related to mink farming, 12 of which are believed to be in cluster 5. Four were found in the local community rather than on farms, suggesting human-to-human transmission.
Prof. Francois Balloux, the director of the UCL Genetics Institute, said minks are very susceptible to coronavirus. Since there are more than three to one people in Denmark, it makes sense to kill the animals to prevent them from triggering the epidemic.
Fiona Mathews, professor of environmental biology and chair of the Mammal Society, called on the government to fund a study to look at whether the virus might already be spreading in the UK mink population.
“Chances are it’s jumped to mink’s cousins like otters,” she said.
In September, we revealed shocking scenes of cannibalism and self-mutilation on what is believed to be the world’s largest mink fur farm in Goreczki, Poland.
Celebrities like Dame Judy Dench, Ricky Gervais and Alesha Dixon supported our calls.
Dragons Den judge Deborah Meaden told her 421,000 followers on Twitter: “If fur farms start threatening humans, we may stop the cruel trade in which millions of animals are kept in cruel cages for short, miserable lives and for.” Fur to be stripped. ”
Heartbreaking footage was taken last night showing that some mink are still alive when sent to the incinerator.
Jacob Forman, an attorney at Forman Advokate, who represents the transport companies, said it was deeply annoying that the Danish Veterinary and Food Authority had so little control over the killing of minks, which resulted in drivers accidentally transporting live animals for cremation would have.
He said, “It’s hideous – it’s cruelty to animals at the highest level.”
Irish mink farms are currently being tested for coronavirus, as the Department of Agriculture has confirmed as a precaution.
It is assumed that no mink was transported to Ireland in 2020.