Bloated carcasses of mink culled by Denmark to stop spread of Covid strain are surfacing from mass graves
- Bloated mink carcasses have risen up and resurfaced from mass graves in Denmark, according to local media.
- Denmark has begun a mass cull of its 17 million mink after a new strain of Covid-19, transmissible to humans, was discovered on some farms.
- A Danish police spokesman told broadcaster DR that gases in the decaying bodies cause the "whole thing to expand a little," and get pushed up.
- The phenomenon has been seen in Holstebro and other sites that the police did not specify, DR reported.
- The risk of transmission from the carcasses is low, the police spokesman told DR, but added that "it is never healthy to get close to dead animals."
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The carcasses of Danish mink culled to prevent the spread of a mutated strain of Covid-19 have swollen up and risen to the surface of their mass graves, according to local media.
Gas bloating has caused the bodies of some of the country's culled mink to rise up and emerge from three feet under the ground at a military burial site at Holstebro, West Jutland, and some other sites, public broadcaster DR reported.
A cull of 17 million mink — the country's entire population of the creature — began in November after the discovery of a new strain of Covid-19 at some farms.
The sheer size of the cull meant that rendering plants — which normally handle carcasses — were overwhelmed. Instead, many animals were incinerated, or drenched in disinfectant and lime, and buried 1.8 metres deep.
The burials are presenting a grisly problem at some sites, according to DR.
Thomas Kristensen, press officer for the Danish National Police, told the outlet: "In connection with the decay, some gases can be formed, which causes the whole thing to expand a little, and then in that way, in the worst case, they get pushed out of the ground."
The national police force, which is overseeing the burial operation, also told DR that it had seen similar instances before it came to light in Holstebro on Monday, but did not specify where.
Kristensen explained that the sandy soil of the West Jutland area is too light to hold them down, and added that the police are addressing the problem by adding more soil. Some future burials will be more than eight feet deep, DR reported him as saying.
A low risk to humans
The new strain that was found in the mink is transmissible to humans. However, experts told Business Insider's Aylin Woodward that the danger it presents may be limited, and on November 20 authorities said the strain is now "most likely" extinct.
Kristensen said that the risk of Covid-19 transmission to humans from the newly-arisen mink is low, though bacteria may remain on their fur.
"Mink, which have been infected with corona, are transmitted primarily through breathing, so in this way dead mink infects less than live mink," he told DR. "But there may still be bacteria in the fur on them."
"But having said that, it is never healthy to get close to dead animals," he added.
He also said he could not guarantee it would not happen again.
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