It is still risky to have mink breeding in Denmark in 2020. This is the assessment from Denmark’s SSI, the Statens Serum Institut.
In an email response to the parliamentary parties, which TV 2 has seen, it appears that SSI still stands by the previous risk assessment , which they broadcast on 14 June this year.
It stated that “keeping mink in Denmark after 2021 may entail a health risk for people of unknown size”, and it is thus this health risk which, SSI believes, is still present in mink breeding.
The email states that “the conclusions of the health professional assessment of the risk to human health in the event of a resumption of mink keeping after 2021 of 14 June 2021 remain valid.”
TV2nord report (In Danish)
* * Thankfully someone in Europe still has their eye on the ball **
A case of SARS-CoV-2 infection in mink has been discovered in connection with the ongoing mandatory disease surveillance that was initiated this summer as a result of an EU decision and which covers all mink farms in the country.
Viral genetic material was detected by PCR in one of six samples sent from the affected farm. Complete genome sequencing shows that the detected virus is of a type not previously seen in Sweden, but which has been reported from several countries within and outside the EU since April 2020. It is thus a more original SARS-CoV-2 type and not any of the later virus variants that cause particular concern due to changed virus properties, so-called variants of concern .
It is currently unclear how the virus got into the herd and where it comes from. All mink farms in the country are subject to special infection control restrictions to reduce the risk of introduction and further spread of infection following a decision from the Swedish Board of Agriculture taken in connection with the extensive outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 that affected Swedish mink farms in autumn 2020, says state epizootologist Karl Ståhl at SVA.
Swedish Veterinary Institute report (in Swedish)
The Spanish Ministry of Rural has notified this Friday to the Affairs Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) the existence of a coronavirus outbreak in an American mink farm located in the Coruña municipality of Abegondo .
In this farm, which has 8,760 minks , three positive samples have been detected. With this, there are already eleven outbreaks of covid-19 detected so far in American mink farms in Galicia, where there are 25 farms of this type and a total census of 71,479 animals.
The farm was immobilized “immediately” and the surveillance and control by the veterinary services will continue.
Nuevo foco de #COVID19 en una granja de #visones en Abegondo. Ya son 13 brotes registrados en España. ¿Cuántos más hacen falta para cerrar estás peligrosas instalaciones? @mapagob @mitecogob @sanidadgob @Xunta https://t.co/LImZcw88Fr
— Laura Moreno Ruiz (@LMorenoWWF) August 13, 2021
By August 31, 2021, any person holding captive mink in Oregon must vaccinate all captive mink on their premises against the SARS-CoV-2 virus using an approved vaccine according to all vaccine manufacturer instructions. Any captive mink born or imported after August 31, 2021 must be vaccinated within 120 days of the birth of any captive mink, or within 60 days of the date that any captive mink are imported into Oregon.
SURVEILLANCE TESTING FOR SARS-COV-2 IN MINK
Any person holding captive mink in Oregon must participate in surveillance testing for SARS-CoV-2 according to guidelines established by the Oregon Department of Agriculture in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
** We know that vaccines don’t prevent transmission of, or infection by, the Delta variant of Sars-CoV-2. It’s unlikely that vaccinating mink will prevent mutations of the virus being created either. Not destroying these animals is a huge and unnecessary risk to humanity. Ed.**
Two more mink have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus from a Fraser Valley, British Columbia, farm already under quarantine from positive tests in May. In this instance, four mink had escaped their cages and were captured on the farm.
As a result of the new infections, a moratorium has been placed on any new mink farms in B.C., with a cap on existing mink farms at current numbers.
Three B.C. mink farms have had animals test positive since December 2020. “All three remain under quarantine, with no mink being moved to or from the properties.”
We studied 71 ferrets belonging to 7 owners; the ferrets were used as working animals for rabbit hunting in Ciudad Real Province, central Spain. All 71 ferrets were included in the study, and none showed clinical signs of any illness. Group sizes ranged from 4 to 21 (mean 10). Twenty ferrets belonging to groups 1 and 2 were resampled 66 days after initial sampling. Information on coronavirus disease in the owners was not available. Sampling took place during August–November 2020.
We found SARS-CoV-2 RNA in swab samples from 6 of the 71 ferrets.
We conclude that natural SARS-CoV-2 infection in kept ferrets does occur in circumstances of high viral circulation in the human population However, the high cycle thresholds observed and the lack of virus-positive ferrets at resampling suggest that small ferret populations are less able to maintain prolonged virus circulation than large, farmed mink populations.
In Denmark, SARS-CoV-2 variants co-circulating in mink and humans collectively acquired at least 35 different amino acid changes in the spike protein. These SARS-CoV-2 variants belong to lineage B.1.1.298. The receptor binding domain (RBD) substitution Y453F, also observed among Dutch farmed mink, appeared in the first transmission Cluster in June. A two-amino acid residue deletion (ΔH69/V70) in the N-terminal domain appeared together with the Y453F in August 2020 and occurred in the subsequent Clusters 2, 3, and 4. A new variant, termed Cluster 5, with two additional amino acid substitutions, i.e., I692V downstream of the transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2)/furin cleavage site and M1229I within the transmembrane domain, was identified in September 2020 on 5 mink farms and in 12 human cases (age: 7–79 years; symptoms: asymptomatic to mild).
Given the potential of this variant to spread among humans, as observed for other mink-associated variants, and an increased risk of antigenic alterations with the multiple spike changes, it was deemed necessary to do a rapid evaluation of this “Cluster 5” variant in vitro. To aid timely public health responses, Statens Serum Institut released a preliminary report on 10 November 2020. A more detailed evaluation of this Cluster 5 variant and its in vitro fitness and neutralization potential is presented here.
The World Wildlife Fund has renewed its calls for American mink farms in Spain to be closed down following the news that another four outbreaks of Covid-19 have been identified at establishments in the Galicia province of A Coruña.
These latest outbreaks bring the total at mink farms in Spain up to 9, including 7 in A Coruña, and the WWF welcome the news that the issue is on the agenda for the current meeting of the European Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH). The organization continues to petition for the forced closure of the 25 mink farms in Galicia, due not only to the proven link between the species and the spread of coronavirus but also to the threat the invasive species represents to native wildlife.
According to the WWF, the Spanish authorities have been slow to take action regarding mink farms, not tightening the controls and checks at these establishments until late last year in contrast with the rapid reactions of other European governments, such as those of the Netherlands and Denmark.
A SARS-CoV-2 strain found on a Polish mink farm can be directly transmitted from the animals to humans and vice versa, the Agriculture Ministry has said. The mink virus variant, the first detected in farm animals in Poland is, up to now, not identical to any of the new strains found recently in humans, but belongs to an animal strain well-known to epidemiologists, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday. It also differs from the strain detected in Danish minks, the ministry added.
The infection on the Polish mink farm in the northern county of Kartuzy was detected in late January. All 5,800 minks have been culled.
The Polish agriculture ministry stated that minks pose a threat of “an uncontrolled spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the formation of dangerous mutations because they are significantly susceptible to infection by this virus”.
Poland has joined forces with other EU countries to push the European Commission into banning mink farming in Europe because of the COVID-19 threat the animals pose to humans and wildlife, the Agriculture Ministry stated.
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak has been detected in two mink farms in the Biała Podlaska district (eastern Poland), the Chief Veterinary Officer informed. This is the second outbreak of COVID-19 in mink in Poland.
“The outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 was detected in two farms with a total of 8,000 female and 29,000 young mink, located at the same address in the Biała Podlaska district,” an announcement on the General Veterinary Inspectorate website stated.
The presence of the virus was detected on the basis of the laboratory test results carried out at the State Veterinary Institute in Puławy (eastern Poland). The samples for farm research were collected on June 16. “In the above-mentioned farms, samples were taken from 20 mink (40 swabs in total). In the case of 3 animals, the results were positive,” the press release said.
“All minks from farms where the virus has been confirmed will be put to sleep and disposed of,” Paweł Piotrowski, Lubelskie province head veterinarian stressed.
Image by Dzīvnieku brīvība – Baltic Devon Mink 09, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87445687
** The fur farming industry, in particular the mink industry, threatens the entire world with a storm of deadly new Sars-CoV-2 mutations. It must be closed to prevent further outbreaks which could become uncontrollable **
The Irish Cabinet is set to agree to ban fur-farming from next year, with a compensation package for farmers also expected. There are approximately 120,000 mink on three farms in counties Laois, Donegal and Kerry. The Cabinet will be told that the three farmers will be compensated for the closing down of their operations with asset value, earnings, redundancy payments and demolition fees to be considered in the package.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will today (Tuesday) bring a memo to Cabinet on the prohibition of fur-farming in Ireland, which will begin early in 2022 to allow the farmers see out the 2021 season.
A majority of genome sequences from human cases had clear phylogenetic relationships to sequences recovered from mink samples. Sequences from humans and mink from the same mink farms clustered closely together, suggesting within-farm human-to-mink and/or mink-to-human transmission. In sequences from two human samples from one of the negative mink farms the mutation Y453F, considered as an adaptation to mink, was observed.
“Between mid-October and mid-November, the National Veterinary Institute received 74 submissions of between 3–5 dead mink, representing between 1 and 4 submissions per farm. Thirteen farms gave positive results for SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids using qRT-PCR. All positive farms were located in Sölvesborg, the County of Blekinge, in the south-eastern part of the country. None of the positive farms had reported increased morbidity or mortality before testing positive but, retrospectively, a slight increase in daily mortalities could be observed in the records from several of the farms.
All sequences from mink belonged to sub-lineage B1.1.39, a sub-lineage only seen once in Sweden before the outbreak. From the serological screening, 24 samples per farm were received from 26 out of the 28 mink farms that remained after the pelting. Specific SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in the vast majority of samples from 23 farms, including in all farms that previously had been tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids. In the remaining three farms, all samples tested negative.
A total of 100 persons have been registered in the program, but due to the seasonal mode of work, and changes in the workforce, the number of participants has varied. The 317 samples that have been taken and analysed for ongoing viral infection within the surveillance program have resulted in 8 positive persons. In addition to samples from these persons another 14 samples from mink farmworkers that was tested positive before the surveillance was launched were collected. All 22 samples were whole-genome sequenced (WGS). In the serological survey, 78 persons participated, among whom 27 tested positive.
The resulting sequences from WGS were analysed using pangolin. Generally, two main groups were seen, one representing sequences with a pangolin classification similar to that of sequences recovered from WGS of samples from minks (B.1.1.39) and the second group representing sequences with a pangolin classification identical to those circulating in Sweden at the time. The sequences were further analysed by aligning them towards the reference sequence NC_045512. A phylogenetic tree was calculated, and the subtree representing sequences with the pangolin classification B.1.1.39 was studied separately as new sequences were added.
A majority of sequences from human cases had clear phylogenetic relationships to sequences recovered from mink samples. Sequences from humans and mink from the same mink farms clustered closely together, suggesting within-farm human-to-mink and/or mink-to-human transmission. In sequences from two human samples from one of the negative mink farms the mutation Y453F, considered as an adaptation to mink, was observed.”
From: Mink-associated infections with SARS-CoV-2 –
** Update ** Mink farming was suspended for 2021 in Sweden, but on the basis of this report, mink farming should be banned entirely, not just in Sweden, but internationally. Mink farms risk becoming major reservoirs of Sars-CoV-2 capable of spilling back into the human population. The advantages of mink farming do not remotely outweigh the risks.
“Ferrets, mink and other members of the mustelinae family are particularly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They can infect members of their own species and there is evidence that mink can pass the infection back to humans.”
Ferret and other mustelinae keepers can join a register to share information about their animals with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). APHA will use the information on the register to contact you with information and guidance about disease prevention if there is an outbreak of disease affecting your animals.
You can sign up if you keep one or more mustelinae, including:
- hybrids of these animals
You are a keeper if you are responsible for the day-to-day care of the animals. This includes animals kept as pets.
You do not have to join the register by law at the moment. It is likely to become compulsory in the future if you keep more than a certain number of ferrets or other mustelinae. The number has not been decided yet.
APHA encourages you to register even if you do not have to by law.
If you join the voluntary register, APHA will include your details on the compulsory register when it is created. You will not need to re-register.
Ferrets, mink and other members of the mustelinae family are particularly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They can infect members of their own species and there is evidence that mink can pass the infection back to humans.
If there is a confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 in ferrets, you may be contacted with information and advice about disease prevention measures.
The movement of animals infected with SARS-CoV-2 may be restricted in line with The Zoonoses Order (1989) as amended.
* Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets and minks