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.