An irresistible headline

It really makes you want to read the whole thing, doesn’t it?

Except, when you actually read the story, it’s not that interesting. The “rise from graves” is just masses of shallowly buried mink corpses bloating and bulging up to the surface. Unpleasant, yes, but these are not zombie mustelids stalking Denmark. The “mutated form” bit is also not a big deal — viruses are constantly mutating. The real concern isn’t even mentioned in that story. The mutation is just a useful marker, as near as I can tell, that allows them to trace patterns of infection, and 12 people have been found to be infected with COVID carrying the same marker. That suggests that we could have zoonotic transmission from mink to humans (or vice versa). Also, about a fifth of the Danish mink farms have the disease among their animals, which says it’s spreading fast among the captive mink, and now we’re seeing infections and death in mink farms in Utah and Wisconsin. It also seems the virus is deadly to mink.

The Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UVDL) completed necropsies on several dead animals from the two mink farms after the mink operations reported unusually high mortality rates in their mink populations. The samples were tested at the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University. From there, the samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories for final conformational testing. The affected mink farms have been completely quarantined to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Denmark is going to kill 15 million mink to contain the virus. It sounds like a catastrophe for the ethical treatment of animals, but I would remind you that all 15 million were already doomed — they were raised to be slaughtered for their fur, so this is only accelerating their death…and depriving mink farmers of their profit. On the bright side, it may lead to the demise of a particularly brutal kind of animal abuse.


  1. brucegee1962 says

    I saw one article (which I cannot currently locate again) that suggested that the mutation might affect the spike that all the vaccines they are working on develop antibodies for. So if this strain spreads, the vaccines that work on the main strain may not work on it.

  2. microraptor says

    I’ve seen similar concerns cited in multiple articles for why the animals are being culled.

    Frankly, mink farming is one industry I’d be happy to see get killed off by Covid.

  3. bmatchick says

    I used to own ferrets and they’re wonderful pets if you have the time for them. It breaks my heart to see all those mink in little cages knowing what they’re being used for (or any animal). 15 million just in Denmark, Jebus. I hope you’re right, PZ, that covid might help put an end to this. Of course, factory farming practices in the US are probably worse.

  4. davidc1 says

    Trust the Doc to use facts to spoil a good headline .Poor mink ,if they are not killed for their fur, they are being culled because of the pandemic .
    And in the past them loons at the ALF were releasing them into the wild ,where they played havoc with the local wildlife .
    Well at least in the UK .

  5. says

    Also in Oregon. There have been cases where activists just open the cages in mink farms, releasing a flood of horror on local wildlife.

  6. PaulBC says

    No need for facts to get in the way of the movie adaptation.

    “You wanted coats. They want… braaaaains.” (More plausible than killer tomatoes anyway.)

  7. bcw bcw says

    If only this had come sooner, Ivanka would have got daddy to mobilize every power of government to quarantine those people and protect her future mink coats.

  8. says

    Much to the surprise of many Danes, Denmark is the biggest mink fur producer in the world. The economy had gotten steadily worse, with mink breeders looking towards loosing $10 per mink this year, until this happened. Denmark will probably temporarily ban minks in 2021, so in all likelihood this will be the end of big scale breeding in Denmark, letting the mink farmers get out of the business in much better economical shape than otherwise.