Denmark has announced a complete cull of all mink on Danish farms - a total of up to 17 million animals - due to spiralling Covid-19 infections.
A mutated form of the coronavirus has been found on around 200 of the country's mink farms, which total over 1,100 in number.
The virus has also been discovered on mink farms in the Netherlands and Spain, but Denmark, the world's biggest producer of mink fur, has had the most cases.
By culling mink on infected farms, the Danish government aims to prevent them from becoming a virus reservoir.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who described the situation as 'very, very serious', said the government was taking this step to protect Danes from becoming ill.
She said the mutated Covid-19 strain presented a 'risk to the effectiveness' of a future vaccine.
"We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well," she said.
She said the emergency services, including the army, would be used to help farmers with the mink cull, which commenced last month.
According to vaccine specialist Prof Kåre Mølbak, of Denmark’s State Serum Institute (SSI), this new wave of cases among minks could start off a new pandemic.
"There’s a risk that this mutated virus is so different from the others that we’d have to put new things in a vaccine and therefore [the mutation] would slam us all in the whole world back to the start,” he said.
More than 50 million mink a year are farmed for their fur, which is usually exported to the East Asian market, such as China and Hong Kong.