Monitoring of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection in mustelids | Europäische Behörde für Lebensmittelsicherheit Direkt zum Inhalt

Monitoring of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection in mustelids

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Abstract

American mink and ferret are highly susceptible to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2), but no information is available for other mustelid species. SARS‐CoV‐2 spreads very efficiently within mink farms once introduced, by direct and indirect contact, high within‐farm animal density increases the chance for transmission. Between‐farm spread is likely to occur once SARS‐CoV‐2 is introduced, short distance between SARS‐CoV‐2 positive farms is a risk factor. As of 29 January 2021, SARS‐CoV‐2 virus has been reported in 400 mink farms in eight countries in the European Union. In most cases, the likely introduction of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection into farms was infected humans. Human health can be at risk by mink‐related variant viruses, which can establish circulation in the community, but so far these have not shown to be more transmissible or causing more severe impact compared with other circulating SARS‐CoV‐2. Concerning animal health risk posed by SARS‐CoV‐2 infection the animal species that may be included in monitoring plans are American mink, ferrets, cats, raccoon dogs, white‐tailed deer and Rhinolophidae bats. All mink farms should be considered at risk of infection; therefore, the monitoring objective should be early detection. This includes passive monitoring (in place in the whole territory of all countries where animals susceptible to SARS‐CoV‐2 are bred) but also active monitoring by regular testing. First, frequent testing of farm personnel and all people in contact with the animals is recommended. Furthermore randomly selected animals (dead or sick animals should be included) should be tested using reverse transcriptase‐polymerase chain reaction (RT‐PCR), ideally at weekly intervals (i.e. design prevalence approximately 5% in each epidemiological unit, to be assessed case by case). Suspected animals (dead or with clinical signs and a minimum five animals) should be tested for confirmation of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection. Positive samples from each farm should be sequenced to monitor virus evolution and results publicly shared.

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