Genetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been completed in both animals and people associated with the outbreak at a mink farm in B.C.
The results show the people and animals were infected with an identical or nearly identical strain. The strain detected has been circulating in people in B.C., indicating COVID-19 spread from people to animals and not the other way around.
Whole genome sequencing was performed on five mink and five human cases at the beginning of the outbreak by the BC Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease Laboratory in Winnipeg.
One common mutation was detected in both the animals and farm workers. This mutation is not in the spike protein of the coronavirus and has been reported in mink previously. Neither the mutation nor the outbreak present an increased risk to human health at this time. Public health and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries are continuing to monitor for COVID-19 cases in people and mink on mink farms. Further human testing has begun and additional mink samples will be collected as well.
The outbreak at the affected mink farm is contained. To date, 17 workers and their contacts have tested positive for COVID-19. Staff are self-isolating and the farm has been quarantined.
Fraser Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, WorkSafeBC and the BC Centre for Disease Control are working closely with mink farms to provide support and review COVID-19 safety plans.The BC Centre for Disease Control, a part of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides public health leadership through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. The Centre provides diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance, and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities. The BCCDC also provides health promotion and prevention services to reduce the burden of chronic disease, preventable injury and environmental health risks. For more, visit www.bccdc.ca or follow us on Twitter @CDCofBC.
The Provincial Health Services Authority plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty health care services across BC, working with the five regional health authorities, First Nations Health Authority and the Ministry of Health to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit www.phsa.ca or follow us @PHSAofBC.
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