Laois mink farm in Vicarstown
Precautionary Covid-19 testing is underway at a mink farm in Laois following the emergence of a mutated strain of the disease in Denmark which will see thousands of animals euthanised because the strain spreads to humans.
There are three mink farms currently operating here but no mink have been imported this year.
The Vasa Ltd Fur Farm is located in Vicarstown, Co. Laois. The others operate in Donegal and Kerry. The Department of Agriculture said in 2019 that these are seen as large farms producing approximately 110,000 pelts per annum.
RTÉ reported that the Department of Health has said this particular mutation of the virus has not, to date, been identified in Ireland. Nevertheless, officials have moved to take steps.
The Department confirmed that testing will be carried out for Covid-19 in each of the three farms to see if the virus is present as part of ongoing surveillance.
The Department of Health has also announced that the Health Service Executive will conduct serial testing of the mink farm workers and their household contacts.
The Laois farm has been in operation since the 1960s. However, under proposed Government legislation announced in 2019, fur production is due to be banned in Ireland.
Denmark, the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden have reported new coronavirus cases linked to mink farms according to the World Health Organization said.
Denmark has imposed strict measures after a mutation of the virus jumped from minks to 12 people.
The Danes fear the mutation could threaten the effectiveness of any future vaccine. The Danish Government has ordered the slaughter of all the estimated 15-17 million minks in the country.
The Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said that anyone arriving into Ireland from Denmark will have to restrict their movements for 14 days because of the risk of spread.