Endangered ferrets get experimental COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado

COVID-19 Vaccine

FILE – In this Oct. 5, 2015, file photo, a black-footed ferret looks out of the entrance to a prairie dog tunnel after being let loose during a release of 30 of the animals by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colo. In the summer of 2020, about 120 ferrets at Colorado’s National Black-footed Conservation Center were injected with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. The endangered animals are feared to be highly vulnerable to the disease. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

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(AP) — Months before people started getting vaccinated for COVID-19, endangered black-footed ferrets in northern Colorado were injected with an experimental coronavirus vaccine.

Kaiser Health News reports that about 120 animals at the National Black-footed Conservation Center near Fort Collins got the vaccine in late summer. There haven’t been any cases of COVID-19 there but ferrets are feared to be highly vulnerable to the disease.

Experts say vaccinating vulnerable species against the disease is important for humans too. When animals contract the virus from humans, it can mutate as it spreads rapidly, posing a new threat if it spills back to people.

Ferrets were rescued from the brink of extinction after some were discovered in Wyoming four decades ago.

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