The study, published in Scientific Reports, reports evidence that 28 animals regularly in contact with people may be susceptible to infection.
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The focus of the investigation was whether mutations in the ACE2 protein in 215 different animals, that make it different from the human version, would reduce the stability of the binding complex between the virus protein and host protein. Binding to the protein enables the virus to gain entry into host cells; while it is possible the virus might be able to infect animals via another pathway, it is unlikely based on current evidence that the virus could infect an animal if it cannot form a stable binding complex with ACE2.
The researchers found that for some animals, such as sheep and great apes (chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, and bonobo, many of which are endangered in the wild), the proteins would be able to bind together just as strongly as they do when the virus infects people. Some of the animals, such as sheep, have not yet been studied with infection tests, so this does not confirm that the animal can indeed be infected.
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Co-author Professor Joanne Santini (UCL Structural & Molecular Biology) said: “To protect animals, as well as to protect ourselves from the risk of one day catching Covid-19 from an infected animal, we need large-scale surveillance of animals, particularly pets and farm animals, to catch cases or clusters early on while they’re still manageable.
“It may also be important to employ hygiene measures when dealing with animals, similar to the behaviours we’ve all been learning this year to reduce transmission, and for infected people to isolate from animals as well as from other people.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released its annual report on mink pelt production in the United States.
In 2004, total mink production increased by 1 percent over 2003, while the cash value of all mink pelts produced in 2004 increased by 21 percent to $124 million, up from $102 million in 2003. Average pelt price increased from $40.10 in 2003 to $48.40 in 2004. That was the highest average pelt price sinced 1995 when mink pelts averaged $53.10.
In all, 2,563,100 mink pelts were produced in the United States in 2004, and 642,100 females were bred to produce kits.
The total number of mink farms in the United States declined by 3 percent in 2004, down to 296 compared to 305 in 2003.
The USDA’s complete report on mink pelt production can be read here.
In March, the Republic of Ireland rejected a ban on fur farming proposed by that country’s Green Party.
The Republic of Ireland is home to six mink farms that export about $2.5 million worth of fur annually. Fur farming was banned in Northern Ireland effective January 1, 2003, as part of the United Kingdom’s ban on fur farming. A the time the ban went into effect, there were no operating fur farms in the country.
Republic of Ireland Junior Agriculture Minister John Browne told Ireland On-Line that the government felt that existing regulation of fur farms was sufficient, though it was willing to continue to examine welfare-related issues presented by fur farms,
I am prepared to keep the position under ongoing review in the light of developments.
I would consider introducing a provision in the forthcoming legislation into animal health and welfare which would require the extending of a licensing requirement to all enterprises engaged in farming animals for their fur.
Of course the Greens want complete abolition of the practice, as Green Party leader Trevor Sargent told Ireland On-Line,
Our intention is to end this needless and cruel practice via the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill 2004.
When the bill finally came up for a vote in the Dail, Government parties carried the day defeating the proposed ban by a vote of 67 to 50.
A transcript of the debate between pro- and anti-fur farm forces in the Dail can be read here.
Former NBA star/freak Dennis Rodman is now appearing in a new People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals anti-fur ad.
The ad features Rodman showing off his many tattoos with the tagline, “Think Ink, Not Mink: Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin and Let Animals Keep Theirs.” Rodman told The Associated Press, “I’m very against people mistreating animals in any fashion.”
Despite his apparent fondness for animal, Rodman has never had a problem with abusing human beings. In November 1999 he was arrested for assaulting his wife, Carmen Electra (who was also charged with assault). According to the police report of the incident,
Co-Def. (Rodman) became agitated when Def.’s (Electra) ex-boyfriend appeared in a video. Co-Def. (Rodman) stated “You fucking whore; get the fuck out, go with ‘Fred’.” Co-Def. (Rodman) then grabbed Def. (Electra) and threw her on the bedroom floor. Co-Def. (Rodman) continually yelled and screamed, grabbing Def. (Electra) again and throwing her (Def.) outside the room on the concrete walkway.
If Rodman had treated a cat that way, PETA would have complained that he was on his way to becoming a serial killer. Since he only treated a woman like that, however, he’s good to go for their anti-fur campaign.
PETA unveiled the ad featuring Rodman in time for New York Fashion Week, and, in cooperation with the Fashion Week’s organizers, was displayed near tents that house the runway shows. According to PETA spokesman Michael McGraw, PETA and the New York Fashion Week have “an indefinite true,” which presumably means the Fashion Week allowed PETA to erect its billboard, and PETA agreed not to send its activists to crash the runways.
Dennis Rodman debuts PETA ad at New York Fashion Week. Bruno J. Navarro, Associated Press, February 7, 2005.
Compassion in World Farming, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and UK-based Respect for Animals have continue their two-year old effort at convincing Ireland to ban fur farming.
CWF and the IPSCA recently released a poster intended for secondary schools and colleges to highlight the alleged evils of fur farming.
Compassion in World Farming is campaigning jointly with the UK-based group, Respect for Animals, for all fur farming to be banned in the Republic of Ireland. As part of our campaign, we have put into place a programme of street events around the country. We have an eye-catching human sized silver fox in a cage and we are collecting signatures on a petition calling on the Agriculture Minister to ban fur farming. We also have pre-printed Shame on Ireland – Ban Fur Farming postcards addressed to the Minister.
According to CIWF, there are currently 6 mink farm and at least 2 fox farms with about 140,000 mink and 1,700 foxes total.