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The minks on Dutch fur farms first got sick in mid-April, showing symptoms ranging from runny noses to severe respiratory distress. They had caught the novel coronavirus from human handlers, the government later said, and soon farmed minks appeared to have passed it back to two other people, in the world’s first reports of animal-to-human transmission since the pandemic began.

The Netherlands has since culled more than 500,000 minks from 13 infected fur companies. The goal of the grim task, set to continue until the farms are virus-free, is to snuff out the possibility of the animals becoming a reservoir for the virus that causes covid-19, which could stymie efforts to end a pandemic that has killed nearly half a million people worldwide.

Some researchers say that although the chances of that happening appear minimal, the implications are too grave to dismiss. In a commentary published Thursday in the Lancet Microbe, researchers at University College London called for widespread surveillance of pets, livestock and wildlife. Studies on animal susceptibility have been small, limited and, in the case of pigs, conflicting, they wrote.

Read the entire story at The Washington Post. Peter Rabinowitz, Global Health Professor and Director of the UW MetaCenter for Pandemic Preparedness and Global Health Security, is quoted.