No International Recommendations to Cull Healthy Mink Herds

International scientific bodies recommend increased biosecurity and monitoring of mink farms in the wake of Denmark’s controversial decision to cull all mink in the country. But neither the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) nor the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) advises to follow the Danish example and cull healthy mink. In a rapid risk assessment published 12 November, ECDC makes a call for increased biosecurity and monitoring of mink farms with regular testing of animals and people but said national authorities should consider culling mink from infected farms and destroying raw pelts in accordance with appropriate biosecurity measures. ECDC also concludes that "the overall level of risk to human health posed by SARS-CoV-2 mink related variants is low for the general population and no different than other SARS-CoV-2 variants." Global veterinary body OIE follows the same track in their publication of 16 November and suggests the introduction of farm biosecurity plans, that set out to prevent the transfer of disease. Farm biosecurity plans should address animal and manure movement, movement of people, safe handling of containers, and other associated materials that could serve as fomites. Detailed plans for increased monitoring, disposal of dead animals, and cleaning and disinfection should also be addressed together with protection equipment for employees. Fur Europe cooperates with ECDC on the ongoing risk assessment. CEO Mette Lykke Nielsen said international coordination of the mink issue is relevant because Covid-19 is an international pandemic. "Both OIE and ECDC stress the need for more research and knowledge, and we support the decision to get more scientific knowledge into this debate. Mink farms are only problematic to the extent they become infected in the first place. There is no scientific foundation to cull healthy animals," she said.