Two mink farms in the Netherlands have been placed into quarantine after coronavirus was detected in the animals, the Dutch Agricultural Ministry said in a statement Sunday.
The ferret-like animals were displaying various symptoms, including respiratory issues, and it is assumed they contracted the virus from farm employees, according to the ministry.
It said the risk the mink infection poses to human health is “negligible,” citing advice from national health authorities. However, as a precautionary measure, the farms are banned from moving the minks or their manure. The facilities’ air and soil will be tested, and people are advised not to go within 400 meters of the farms.
Carola Schouten, the Dutch agriculture minister, has also introduced a measure that requires all mink farmers, veterinarians and researchers to report any respiratory illness or increased mortality in the animals to the government.
Veterinary medical experts elsewhere have advised that while some animals may be susceptible to contracting the virus, they are most likely unable to transmit the disease to humans, based on existing evidence.
A small number of cats and dogs are known to have been infected by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, however, there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That being said, both the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association suggest practicing good hygiene around pets and restricting contact with animals if sick with COVID-19.
There is existing evidence that suggests ferret-like animals are susceptible to infections by coronaviruses.
The towns where the fur farms are located, Germet-Bakel and Laarbeek, are both located in the Noord-Brabant region in the country’s south, which has seen the Netherlands’ worst coronavirus outbreak. The two farms have more than 20,000 mink between them, Dutch News reported.
The Netherlands introduced a ban on fur farming in 2013, according to Reuters. New mink farms are not permitted, and existing fur farms are to be phased out by 2024.