One of the most inexplicably horrifying chapters of the global SARS-CoV-2 will be the mass slaughter of mink in Denmark after the animals were discovered to be infected with SARS-CoV-2. While these mink weren't the only animals to test positive (the list includes several cats and dogs as well as a tiger at the Bromx zoo), for reasons of their own (they were worried about the threat that the mutated form of the virus could transfer from the mink to human hosts in another example of 'zoonotic transmission'), the Danes decided to slaughter 17 million of them.
Headlines about the decision elicited outrage, yet authorities persevered. Only, they didn't anticipate that after the bodies had been buried, a bizarre and exceedingly rare natural phenomenon caused their corpses to literally rise from their mass graves, "Pet Sematary"-style. That caused an even bigger scandal, and the Danish government scrambled to blame the incident on the contractor hired to cull and bury the minks.
Well, pretty soon, we might see a similar kind of catastrophe playing out in the American southwest, where a wild mink has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in Utah - the first example of a wild animal testing positive for the virus in the US.
To be sure, it's not the first time a mink has tested positive in the US (a farm in Oregon was placed on quarantine after a mink there tested positive, and infected minks have been found on farms in Wisconsin and Michigan). But as the NY Post remarked, since the animal tested was a wild mink, it's possible mutated forms of COVID-19 might be "running wild" in America.
"To our knowledge, this is the 1st free-ranging, native wild animal confirmed with SARS-CoV-2," the US Department of Agriculture said Monday in a statement announcing the alarming discovery.
The mink tested positive during what was apparently a routine test of various wild animal species carried out by the FDA. No other species tested positive (though that doesn't mean there isn't more COVID out there - far from it). The USDA said it has notified the WHO about its discovery.
Mink have tested positive for the virus in other nations as well.
It's not clear what the USDA's plans are. But in the meantime, Americans should probably avoid hunting and/or eating any small rodents or mammals hunted in the wild.