A research study examining SARS-CoV-2 infections throughout 16 mink farms in the Netherlands, provided at the ESCMID Conference on Coronavirus Disease (ECCVID, held online from September 23-25, 2020) reveals that the infection most likely leapt in between individuals and mink and back, supplying strong proof that animal to human (zoonotic) transmission is possible.
The research study is by a group of Dutch veterinary science specialists consisting of Dr Bas Oude Munnink (ErasmusMC), Professor Wim van der Poel (Wageningen University and Research Centre), Professor Arjan Stegeman (Utrecht University) Prof Marion Koopmans (ErasmusMC) and Reina Sikkema (ErasmusMC).
The specific origin of SARS-CoV-2 is still unidentified, although numerous theories have actually been advanced. Animal experiments have actually revealed that non-human primates, ferrets, hamsters, bunnies and bats can be contaminated by SARS-CoV-2 in addition to felines, pet dogs, lions and tigers. Recently, numerous break outs in mink farms (including mink of the Neovison vison types) in the Netherlands have actually shown that mink are likewise prone to SARS-CoV-2.
The authors did a thorough examination of break outs on 16 mink farms and human beings living or dealing with these farms, utilizing whole-genome sequencing to underpin sources of transmission. They explain SARS-CoV-2 infections on 16 farms, with over 720,000 animals. In overall, 66 of 97 (67%) individuals evaluated had proof for SARS-CoV-2 infection, either by PCR or serology. All individuals evaluated had a direct link to a contaminated mink farm.
The authors state: “Due to longitudinal follow up of the first 4 farms, we have strong evidence that at least two people on those farms were infected by minks. Unfortunately, based on our research we cannot make definite conclusions on the direction of most of the infections, so we do not know the total number of people that were infected by minks. We conclude that initially the virus was introduced from humans and has evolved on mink farms, most likely reflecting widespread circulation among mink in the first SARS-CoV-2 mink farms, several weeks prior to detection.”
They include: “Genetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 from the human employees on the farms showed they were the same as those found in mink, and were not identical to those found in unrelated SARS-CoV-2 patients living in the vicinity of farms. Genetic sequences from each of the infected mink farms fell into one of five distinct clusters, showing transmission between different mink farms.”
They conclude: “Additional research will be needed to determine the routes of transmission. We conclude that at least some of these employees are very likely to have been infected directly from infected mink and thereby describe the first proven zoonotic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans. Close collaboration between human and animal health departments is essential for early identification and control of SARS-CoV-2 infections.”