Two mink have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, on a farm under quarantine after it had mink test positive in May 2021.
Five additional mink samples from the same farm have initially tested positive at the B.C. Animal Health Lab, with final results pending from The National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg.
The two positive mink were identified through a co-ordinated wildlife surveillance project led by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, in co-operation with the One Health Working Group. One of the main objectives is to assess the potential for virus transmission to free-ranging animals from an infected premise. In this instance, four mink had escaped their cages and were captured on-farm.
As a result of the latest infections, a provincial health officer’s order has also been issued to all mink-farm operators in the province, placing a moratorium on any new mink farms in B.C. and capping existing mink farms at their current numbers. The order is effective immediately. Each farm is required to report the total number of mink, both breeding stock and non-breeding mink, to the provincial health officer and the medical health officer in their health authority.
The Province is conducting a review of its policies and regulations with respect to fur farms, while ensuring the recommended mitigation measures are in place and enforced to protect both public and animal health.
Three B.C. mink farms have had mink test positive for SARS-CoV-2 since December 2020. All three remain under quarantine, with no mink being moved to or from the properties. Fraser Health, WorkSafeBC and the Province continue to ensure biosecurity measures are in place to protect workers and families on mink farms, as well as making sure each farm is taking all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of spreading SARS-CoV-through human-to-animal or animal-to-human transmission.
The nine B.C. mink farms, all located in the Fraser Valley, employ approximately 150 workers. The exact locations of mink farms are not being released as per Section 16.1 of the Animal Health Act, which prohibits the disclosure of information that would identify a specific place where an animal is located.
Provincial health officer’s order on mink farms:
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries information bulletin (May 2021) with details on third B.C. mink farm to test positive for COVID-19:
Genome BC news release (March 2021) with details on the project One Health Genomics: COVID-19 adaptation investigation in mink: