THREE mink that died on a second Fraser Valley mink farm have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries announced on Thursday.
The chief veterinarian for B.C. has placed the farm under a quarantine order prohibiting the movement of animals and materials from the property to minimize the risk of the virus spreading. A plan is in place to provide feed and care to the mink during the outbreak that respects the conditions of the quarantine and maintains both worker and mink safety. No workers on the farm have tested positive for COVID-19 to date.
The three mink were tested after some animals in the herd experienced diarrhea, which can be a sign of COVID-19 in mink. Twenty-three animals died on the farm between December 19 and 23. The farm has approximately 1,000 animals. It is not currently known how the mink contracted the virus and the ministry is currently working with stakeholders to identify potential sources.
All mink farms in B.C. are contributing to an enhanced surveillance and testing program to monitor for COVID-19. The farms were inspected by ministry staff as part of a routine process in summer 2020 to ensure they were in compliance with all animal welfare and biosecurity standards, which offer the best preventative measures against disease.
Earlier this month, workers and animals tested positive for COVID-19 at another mink farm in the Fraser Valley, the first time the virus had been found in mink in British Columbia. About 1%, or approximately 200 mink, were reported to have died between December 4 and 9 following the outbreak. The majority of the mink on the first farm do not appear to have been showing symptoms since then, and there have been no further unusual mortalities reported. Genetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been completed in both animals and people associated with the first farm. The results show the people and animals were infected with an identical or nearly identical strain. The strain detected has been circulating in people in B.C., indicating COVID-19 spread from people to animals and not the other way around.
The locations of both 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.