Following new infections on mink farms, the Cabinet is tightening hygiene measures to prevent new infections. Research into possible sources of contamination is also being intensified. Minister Hugo de Jonge of Health, Welfare and Sport and Minister Carola Schouten of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality write this in a letter to the House of Representatives. A total of 22 mink farms in North Brabant and Limburg were found to contain mink contaminations with SARS-CoV-2. The cabinet will continue the monitoring investigation in the coming weeks to detect new infections quickly.
Because new contamination has recently been found at mink companies, despite the measures in force, the cabinet and mink sector are tightening hygiene measures. For example, from today it is mandatory for employees on mink farms to use personal protective equipment, such as non-medical mouth masks and face shields. Compliance with the hygiene protocol is the responsibility of the sector. The NVWA will intensify supervision of compliance with the measures. In addition, the OMT-Z is asked to advise on recent developments.
For each infection, the NVWA and GGD conduct a tracing investigation into the possible source of infection. In view of the recent infections, LNV has asked the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine to conduct more in-depth research into possible introduction routes. This investigation has just started. The first results are expected in early August.
There are three ways in which the situation on mink farms is monitored, namely through: compulsory reporting of symptoms of mink disease (the obligation to report), an early warning system (weekly submission of carcasses) and serological screening (testing for presence of antibodies). At this time, new infections cannot be excluded, so monitoring will continue in the near future.
To prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 between mink farms, a national ban on the transportation of mink is currently in place. As a result, the animal welfare of the growing puppies on ten non-infected farms is at risk due to a lack of space in the stables. Normally growing puppies from these companies are moved to other locations of the same companies. Holders of these companies can request an exemption from the NVWA to be allowed to transport their puppies to another, preferably vacant, location under strict conditions. This is emphatically not about relocation to previously vacated, vacant companies; these should not be repopulated at this time. The NVWA supervises this.
Research rabbits kept commercially
Because experimental research has shown that rabbits can be susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2, as previously announced, precautionary research was conducted at 18 rabbit farms in the region where the infected mink farms are located. The results of this study indicate that no SARS-CoV-2 has circulated on these rabbit farms. This research is further expanded to all 40 rabbit farms in the Netherlands. There are currently no indications of possible SARS-CoV-2 contamination in rabbits, non-farm rabbits, and no pet rabbits.