May 20, 2020 | 12:07pm
Dutch authorities believe a mink may have transmitted the coronavirus to a farmworker in what may be the first animal-to-human case detected since the original outbreak in Wuhan, China.
The government said the infection appears to be linked to the outbreaks detected on mink-breeding farms in April, when keepers noticed that some of the animals were having trouble breathing.
“On the basis of new research results from the ongoing research into COVID-19 infections at mink farms, it is plausible that an infection took place from mink to human,” officials said, according to CNN.
In a letter sent to parliament on Wednesday, agriculture minister Carola Schouten said the worker had a strain of the virus similar to the one found in an animal on the premises, according to EuroNews.
“These new research results have a major impact on the owners, families and employees of mink companies as well as on the local communities,” Schouten said in the letter.
Schouten warned the outbreak may be linked to cats, which were found to also be positive at one of the country’s infected farms, according to CNN.
“In the course of this investigation, it is advised that infected mink farms ensure that cats cannot enter or leave the farm premises,” the government said.
The Netherlands will start screening mink farms in the country for coronavirus antibodies in “the interest of the health of employees,” Bloomberg reported.
The pandemic is believed to have originated from bats, but there have been no known reports since of animals spreading the virus to humans.
Animals do appear to be susceptible to catching the virus from humans, with the Bronx Zoo announcing last month that several big cats tested positive after being exposed to an infected zookeeper.
With Post wires