SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks on 69 Dutch mink farms in 2020 were studied to identify risk factors for virus introduction and transmission and to improve surveillance and containment measures. Clinical signs, laboratory test results, and epidemiological aspects were investigated, such as the date and reason of suspicion, housing, farm size and distances, human contact structure, biosecurity measures, and presence of wildlife, pets, pests, and manure management. On seven farms, extensive random sampling was performed, and age, coat color, sex, and clinical signs were recorded. Mild to severe respiratory signs and general diseases such as apathy, reduced feed intake, and increased mortality were detected on 62/69 farms. Throat swabs were more likely to result in virus detection than rectal swabs. Clinical signs differed between virus clusters and were more severe for dark-colored mink, males, and animals infected later during the year. Geographical clustering was found for one virus cluster. Shared personnel could explain some cases, but other transmission routes explaining farm-to-farm spread were not elucidated. An early warning surveillance system, strict biosecurity measures, and a (temporary) ban on mink farming and vaccinating animals and humans can contribute to reducing the risks of the virus spreading and acquisition of potential mutations relevant to human and animal health.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Dutch Ministries of Health, Welfare and Sport, and of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality under Grant No. 1400011731, 1400011746 and 1400010752.
© 2022 by the authors.