The Oregon Department of Agriculture on May 28 announced an emergency order requiring all captive mink operations to have their animals vaccinated for the virus that causes COVID-19 by Aug. 31.
In addition, people holding mink must participate in surveillance testing for SARS-CoV-2 according to guidelines established by ODA in cooperation with the USDA.
“ODA is taking the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of infection in captive mink, as well as reduce the risk of potential mutation of the virus and the potential for virus transmission back to humans,” said Dr. Ryan Scholz, State Veterinarian, ODA. “It is critical that owner/operators vaccinate their mink against the virus. In addition, ongoing surveillance testing will provide assurance that the vaccine is effective and infection has not occurred on the farms.”
Any mink arriving in Oregon after Aug. 31 will have to be vaccinated within 120 days of birth or 60 days of being imported into the state, a news release explains.
The requirements come after an Oregon mink farm last winter reported an outbreak of COVID-19 among its animals and workers. The ODA took samples from 10 of the sick mink, and all came back positive for SARS-CoV-2, the animal virus linked to COVID-19 in humans, Salem's Statesman Journal reported.
In December, a mink infected with the coronavirus escaped from the quarantined farm and was caught by state biologists, the USA Today reported.
Oregon agriculture officials say they're in regular contact with industry representatives and will continue work in preventing the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 onto their farms.