Mink found infected with Covid-19 at two Dutch fur farms; Areas now closed to public

A coronavirus infection among mink being raised on two fur farms in the Netherlands has forced the closure of several roads with people warned not to come within 400 meters of the farms. The two locations are in Gemert-Bakel and Laarbeek, about ten kilometers apart in the province of Noord-Brabant.

The virus was believed to be spread from humans at the farms to the mink, and not the other way around.

"As a precautionary measure, [public health agency] RIVM is advising against cycling or walking within a radius of approximately 400 meters around the infected mink farm until the results of the research on the air and dust samples are known," the agriculture ministry said in a statement. The mayors of the two municipalities will carry out the necessary road closures.

Mink were found to be carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the variant of coronavirus responsible for respiratory illness Covid-19. "The minks showed various symptoms including respiratory problems," the ministry said. "Investigations have been launched to determine the source of the infections."

Workers at both farms tested positive for the virus, and are believed to have passed the infection on to the mink. The ministry pointed out that mink and ferrets belong to the same animal family, with earlier research showing that the latter are susceptible to Covid-19.

"Human to animal contamination is possible, but the impact of this mink contamination on human health is currently negligible. Human to human contamination is the driving force behind the current coronavirus pandemic," the ministry said.

"There is currently no reason to believe that the virus spreads in these mink farms in any other way than it does between humans," the ministry said. All Dutch mink farmers, veterinarians, and researchers will be required to report any respiratory problems or increased mortality in mink.

The ministry wants more research to be done to determine if the virus spreads the same way among livestock as it does among humans. "While it is not expected that the virus will spread over longer distances, air and dust samples are also taken in the vicinity of the company as a precaution," the ministry said.