B.C. has confirmed that mink at a COVID-19 outbreak site in the province have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Fraser Health declared an outbreak on December 6 at an unspecified mink farm in the Fraser Valley. At that time, Fraser Health had confirmed eight individuals had tested positive for COVID-19, while testing of the animals remained underway.
Mink samples were collected and submitted to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg. Under international reporting requirements, the OIE-World Organisation for Animal Health was notified.
The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries announced in a news release today (December 9) that five mink samples from a Fraser Valley mink farm have all been confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.
The news release states that testing remains ongoing to determine genome sequencing and the strain of the virus, with results expected to be confirmed in the coming days. Transmission between humans and mink has not yet been announced.
B.C.'s chief veterinarian has placed the farm under a quarantine order prohibiting the movement of animals and materials from the property. Meanwhile, a safety plan had been implemented to provide food and care to the mink during the quarantine and outbreak.
The chief veterinarian and ministry staff inspected the farm during a routine inspection in September. The farm was found to be in compliance with all animal welfare and biosecurity standards.
This outbreak isn’t considered a health risk to other mink farms, according to the provincial government news release.
After a mutant strain of COVID-19 had been confirmed at outbreaks at mink farms in Europe, concerns arose from officials that this mutation may affect the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine, which is being distributed.
After the Fraser Valley outbreak, B.C.–born celebrity and animal-welfare activist Pamela Anderson wrote a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan, calling for the closure of all fur farms in the province.