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Following outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 in mink farms across Europe in 2020 the European Commission requested a report in order to offer options for monitoring strategies in preventing and controlling spread of the disease. The report, compiled by EFSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) concludes that all mink farms should be considered at risk from SARS-CoV-2 and that monitoring should include active measures such as testing of animals and staff in addition to passive surveillance by farmers and veterinarians.
As of January 2021, the virus has been detected at 400 mink farms in eight countries in the EU/EEA – 290 in Denmark, 69 in the Netherlands, 21 in Greece, 13 in Sweden, three in Spain, two in Lithuania and one each in France and Italy. Mink and ferret are knownn to be highly susceptible to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 , but no information is still available for other mustelid species. Therefore, the European Authorities reccomend also to include in monitoring plans the following animal species: American mink, ferrets, cats, raccoon dogs, white‐tailed deer and Rhinolophidae bats.
Between 8 December 2020 and 23 February 2021, 1,022 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus detections were reported in 25 EU/EEA countries and the UK. Most of the cases (n=592) were related to poultry, the rest – to wild and captive birds. The majority of the detections were reported in France among farmed ducks. In Russia, seven cases of HPAI virus A (H5N8) infection, with little or no symptoms, have been reported in humans among workers in the poultry sector. Six different genotypes were identified to date in Europe and Russia, suggesting a high propensity of these viruses to undergo multiple reassortment events. The possibility remains that new strains will emerge with a greater potential to infect humans, but to date there is no evidence of any mutation known for its zoonotic potential.
Due to the continued presence of HPAI A(H5) viruses in wild birds and the environment, there is still a risk of further spread, mainly in areas with high poultry densities.
The risk of infection related to avian influenza A (H5N8) virus remains very low for the general EU / EEA population and low for people exposed to the virus for occupational reasons.
Five human cases due to A(H5N6) HPAI and 10 cases due to A(H9N2) LPAI viruses have been reported from China. The risk for the general population as well as travel‐related imported human cases is assessed as very lowand the risk for people occupationally exposed people as low.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the necessity of a longstanding and sustainable One Health collaboration across sectors to tackle shared sanitary challenges.To support countries in building multisectoral mechanisms to jointly assess the risks at the human–animal–environment interface, a new operational tool is available to complement the existing Tripartite Guide to Addressing Zoonotic Diseases in Countries.
The new Joint Risk Assessment Operational Tool (JRA) OT was designed to support countries in applying a consistent and harmonized approach to assessing risks posed by zoonotic disease hazards.The JRA OT offers decision-makers and technical experts a 10-step approach to create a system for conducting joint qualitative risk assessments. Results of the JRA OT are used to support policy communication, risk mitigation, and improved planning and preparedness for zoonotic diseases, contributing to health security at the national, regional, and global levels. The document also provides model templates to support its implementation by staff from national ministries responsible for the management of zoonotic diseases.
For more infromation download the operational tool: https://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Media_Center/docs/pdf/onehealthportal/EN_JointRiskAssessmentOperationalTool_webversion.pdf
Several mink have tested positive with COVID-19 at four mink farms in the Netherlands. The mink showed various symptoms including respiratory problems. Some employees had symptoms of the coronavirus at both companies. Research shows that mink on the farm have transmitted the virus to each other. It is also plausible that two employees have been infected by mink.
The Animal Health Service (GD), Utrecht University (UU), Erasmus MC (EMC) and Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) are conducting research to gain more insight into the virus, the spread of the virus and the spread in the environment. Samples of sick and healthy animals have been collected and air and dust samples have also been taken in the vicinity of the farms. GGD is involved in sampling and research into contamination of employees.
For more information see: https://www.wur.nl/en/Research-Results/Research-Institutes/Bioveterinary-Research/show-bvr/COVID-19-detected-on-two-mink-farms.htm