Science & Technology

Research on SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak Among Farmed Mink in Utah Earns Award for USU Doctoral Student

By Lynnette Harris |

Micrographs of lung tissue samples from mink infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that indicate disease, including inflammation, excessive fluid and protein involved in blood clotting.

Utah State University student Michael Clayton won the 64th American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians’ pathology slide seminar award for his presentation on the 2020 outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in farmed mink in Utah.

The presentation showcased the efforts of Clayton, a student in USU’s Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences who is completing his doctoral degree and veterinary pathology residency at the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and colleagues at the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, in diagnosing the outbreak and helping scientists understand why it happened.

According to a journal article that Clayton co-authored, and on which his outstanding seminar was based, “It remains unclear which animal species, other than humans, may also be susceptible to (SARS-CoV-2) viral infection and could naturally transmit the virus to susceptible hosts. In this study we describe the early phases of an outbreak of disease and death due to SARS-CoV-2 infection in farmed mink in Utah, United States. The investigation reveals that mink can spread the virus rapidly between animals and that the disease in mink is associated with viral infection and damage to tissues of the upper and lower respiratory system.”

The article goes on to say that researchers worldwide are continuing to determine which animal species are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and notes that mink farms need strict biosecurity practices to protect animals and humans until more is understood about the virus.

“All of the presentations were excellent and I was extremely honored to be selected for this award,” Clayton said.

The article “An Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 with High Mortality in Mink (Neovison vison) on Multiple Utah Farms” was published in PLOS Pathogens in November 2021.

USU doctoral student Michael Clayton


Lynnette Harris
Marketing and Communications
College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences


Michael Clayton


Research 814stories Awards 658stories Student Success 282stories Agriculture 212stories COVID-19 157stories Biology 148stories Vet Sciences 59stories Disease 50stories Virus 22stories

Comments and questions regarding this article may be directed to the contact person listed on this page.

Next Story in Science & Technology

See Also