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B.C. puts moratorium on new mink farms after more COVID infections confirmed

Mink farm moratorium effective immediately with cap on current numbers at Fraser Valley farms
A mink at a farm on July 9, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

Two more mink have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus from a Fraser Valley farm already under quarantine from positive tests in May.

As a result of the new infections, a moratorium has been placed on any new mink farms in B.C., with a cap on existing mink farms at current numbers.

“The order is effective immediately,” the July 26 press release said announcing the moratorium on new mink farms, from Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.

Each farm will have to report the total number of mink, both breeding and non-breeding stock, to the provincial health officer and the medical health officer in their health region.

RELATED: Third mink farm tested positive in May

The two positive cases mentioned at the outset were identified through a wildlife surveillance project led by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, in co-operation with the One Health Working Group.

“One of the main objectives is to assess the potential for virus transmission to free-ranging animals from an infected premises.”

In this instance, four mink had escaped their cages and were captured on the farm.

“The Province is conducting a review of its policies and regulations with respect to fur farms, while ensuring the recommended mitigation measures are in place and enforced to protect both public and animal health,” the release said.

Three B.C. mink farms have had animals test positive since December 2020.

“All three remain under quarantine, with no mink being moved to or from the properties.”

No one knows how the mink contract the virus and ministry reps they would be investigating the source. The strain detected in those cases had been circulating in people in B.C., indicating the virus spread from people to animals, and not the other way around.

Fraser Health, WorkSafeBC and the Province continue to ensure biosecurity measures are in place to protect workers and farm families, as well as verifying each farm is taking all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19, through human-to-animal or animal-to-human transmission.

The nine B.C. mink farms, all located in the Fraser Valley, employ about 150 workers. The exact locations of mink farms are not being released as per the Animal Health Act, which prohibits the disclosure of information that would identify a specific place where an animal is located.

RELATED: Mink farm with COVID-19 outbreak was in Chilliwack

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