Minks look out of a cage at a fur farm in the village of Litusovo, northeast of Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 6, 2012. Mink on a second farm in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Sergei Grits

Minks look out of a cage at a fur farm in the village of Litusovo, northeast of Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 6, 2012. Mink on a second farm in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Sergei Grits

COVID-19 has made its way to second B.C. mink farm, no workers sick

Twenty-three animals died between Dec. 19 and 23

Minks on a second farm in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.

Three minks that died on the farm tested positive for the virus, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a news release Thursday, noting the animals were tested after some on the farm had diarrhea.

It said 23 animals died between Dec. 19 and 23.

B.C.’s chief veterinarian has placed the farm under a quarantine prohibiting the movement of animals or materials from the property to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

No workers on the farm have tested positive for COVID-19 and it’s unclear where the minks contracted the virus, the ministry statement said.

Earlier this month, several workers and animals tested positive at a separate Fraser Valley farm where about 200 minks died over a five-day period.

At the time of the test results on the first farm, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the situation was concerning because transmissions between humans and minks have occurred in other countries and there’s potential for the virus to mutate.

All mink farms in B.C. are taking part in an enhanced surveillance and testing program to monitor for COVID-19, the ministry said.

“A plan is in place to provide feed and care to the mink during the outbreak that respects the conditions of the quarantine and maintains both worker and mink safety,” its statement said.

There are about 1,000 minks on the second farm, while the first farm where animals contracted the virus that causes COVID-19 has 15,000 animals.

The ministry said the locations of the farms will not be released.

Both farms were inspected by ministry staff as part of a routine process over the summer to ensure they were in compliance with all animal welfare and biosecurity standards, the ministry said.

There are 13 mink farms in B.C., almost all of which are in the Fraser Valley, according to the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

After the first outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this month, the SPCA called for a moratorium on mink farming in B.C. through the immediate suspension of all mink farm licences.

Representatives for the SPCA and the Canadian Mink Breeders Association could not immediately be reached for comment.

Denmark, the world’s largest supplier of mink fur, decided last month to cull all of its farmed minks, amounting to about 15 million animals.

The World Health Organization said at the time the decision was made after it was determined it wasn’t possible to stop the spread of the infection from farm to farm, or from animals to humans.

The organization said in a statement posted online there had been more than 300 cases of COVID-19 in Denmark among people working in mink pelting, suggesting “there is an increased risk of COVID-19 infection in people who are involved in farming, culling and pelting of mink.”

Several hundred mink culled in Denmark began rising up from shallow graves after gas built up in the bodies, Danish authorities said last month.

Spain culled about 100,000 farmed minks, and in the U.S., about 10,000 minks in Utah died as the virus spread across farms.

— with files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

South Surrey nurse Brittany Williams has been involved with the Burn Camp since 2013. (Contributed photo)
Burn camp ‘really puts things in perspective,’ says South Surrey nurse

Brittany Williams’ experiences hoped to boost Hometown Heroes Lottery fundraiser

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Serena Deol, Jaspreet Deol, Madison Sweeney and Tanveer Pannu (pictured clockwise from top left) are Surrey United soccer players recruited to the University of Fraser Valley. (submitted photos)
Surrey United soccer quartet sign to play for UFV Cascades

Three of the university’s recruits are Panorama Ridge Secondary students

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.'s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
Province ‘ramping up’ COVID-19 vaccination effort in hard-hit Surrey

‘Door-to-door’ registration program in the works, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read