Scientists consider minks’ role in COVID spread

Scientists are considering what role minks may play in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Credit: Tom Koerner/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The spread of COVID-19 among captive mink continues to raise questions about how the virus may spread to wildlife and to humans. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed that four Michigan residents, including two farm employees, had been infected with the coronavirus variant that was found in an outbreak that killed 2,000 mink (Neovison vison) at a Michigan mink farm—the first known instance of animals transmitting the disease to humans in the U.S. Scientists have wondered if the outbreak could be related to the spread of the virus to white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginanus).

“There could be interactions and interspecies transmission that have been cryptic and we haven’t really picked up on,” Samira Mubareka, a virologist at Sunnybrook Research Institute and the University of Toronto, told the New York Times.

Read more from the New York Times.