Unusual outbreak raises questions about SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife

Researchers believe an animal infected mink in Poland with an old strain of the virus

A SARS-CoV-2 outbreak among mink in Poland has raised a mystery. It’s not surprising that mink can contract the virus, which causes COVID-19. It’s been documented in both farmed and wild mink in Europe and North America. The question is how they got it. The strain hadn’t been seen in the region in over two years. “It suggests that another unknown species may have been stealthily harboring and spreading the otherwise bygone strain,” reports Ars Technica. The cases were reported in the journal Eurosurveillance. Researchers suspect an outside animal—possibly a wild marten, a feral cat or an escaped mink—were harboring the old strain and introduced it onto three neighboring mink farms. That raises concerns about “a source for future outbreaks with novel strains,” they wrote.

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Header Image: Mink are known to carry the virus that causes COVID-19. Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS