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'Zombie' minks rise from the dead, Denmark faces new COVID threat

DNA logo DNA 26-11-2020 dnawebdesk@gmail.com (DNA Web Desk)
a close up of an animal © Provided by DNA

The bodies of thousands of culled mink have risen to the surface at a mass burial site in western Denmark. The incident happens weeks after the country began culling thousands of the animals over coronavirus concerns.

According to the Guardian, the decomposition process is now causing some corpses to bloat and overflow their burial sites. 

'As the bodies decay, gases can be formed,' Thomas Kristensen, a national police spokesman, told the state broadcaster DR. 'This causes the whole thing to expand a little. In this way, in the worst cases, the mink get pushed out of the ground.'

Police in West Jutland, where several thousand mink were buried in a mass grave on a military training field, have tried to counter the macabre phenomenon by shovelling extra soil on top of the corpses, which are in a 1 metre-deep trench.

There are also fears, after the local media reported that the animals may have been buried too close to lakes and underground water reserves, resulting in a possible contamination of ground and drinking water supplies.

Photos and videos of the emerging bodies are doing the social media rounds in Denmark, with one Twitter user calling 2020 'the year of the zombie mutant killer mink' and whereas another calling on the population to 'run … The mink are coming for you.'

The Danish environment ministry said the phenomenon was a 'temporary problem tied to the decaying process', adding that the area would be monitored 24 hours a day until a fence is put up to avoid potential problems for animals and humans.

Kristensen assured that there was only small risk to humans from the decomposing bodies, which have been disinfected and covered with lime before being buried, because the virus was transmitted mainly by live mink exhaling it into the air. However Kristensen warned that small quantities of bacteria may still be trapped in their fur.

Denmark, the world's largest exporter of mink fur, was home to as many as 15 to 17 million of the animals before early November. 

But after authorities discovered a mutated version of the virus, confirmed to have infected at least 12 people and fearing which could jeopardise the effectiveness of future vaccines, the government announced that it would cull all its mink.

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