The first known case of coronavirus in wild mink has been reported, leading to calls for widespread monitoring of wildlife.
In an alert to the International Society for Infectious Diseases, US veterinary officials said a wild mink had tested positive around an infected mink farm in Utah.
Farmed mink are known to be susceptible to the virus, with cases reported at fur farms in Europe and the US.
“The virus strain detected in the wild mink was identical to the strain found in captive mink on a nearby mink farm, and no other animals have thus far tested positive despite surveillance efforts around infected farms in several areas of the US,” said Dr Dan Horton, a veterinary expert at the University of Surrey, UK.
Millions of mink have been culled.
Mink are known to escape from mink farms and become established in the wild.
In the UK, a population of mink that escaped from fur farms many years ago is thought to exist, but they are sparsely distributed and rarely come into contact with people, Dr Horton said.