COVID virus transmission from human to mink, as well as from mink to human, revealed by sequencing of the entire genome

In the Netherlands, the complete genome sequence of EARS-CoV-2 outbreaks on 16 mink farms have shown the transmission of viruses between humans to mink as well as from mink to humans.

The authors of the study initially introduced the virus from humans, and it has evolved since then. “More research on mints and other species with mustard member is important to understand if these species are at risk of becoming a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2,” they write.

Although several animals have been shown to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the zoonotic origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is still unknown.

In the Netherlands, the virus was first diagnosed on two mink farms at the end of April 2020. In response, the Dutch national response system for zoonotic diseases was activated and an extensive surveillance system was introduced.

Bas B. Oude Munnink et al. conducted an in-depth investigation among the first 16 infected mink farms in the Netherlands. Their analysis combined SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics, sequence for whole genomes, and in-depth interviews with farm workers. By the end of June, 66 of 97 (68%) of mink farm residents, employees and / or contacts tested had evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Analysis of the genome of the mink virus on these farms showed a variety of sequences.

These large groups of infections were initiated by humans COVID-19 cases with viruses carrying the D614G mutation, the authors say. Sequence also revealed that some people were infected with strains of the virus with an animal sequence, which provides evidence of transmission from animals to humans. Further analysis indicated that there is no spread for people living near the mink farms.

The authors write: “It is essential that the fur production and trade sector does not become a reservoir for the future distribution of SARS-CoV-2 to humans.”

Reference: “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 on mink farms between humans and mink and back to humans” by Bas B. Oude Munnink, Reina S. Sikkema, David F. Nieuwenhuijse, Robert Jan Molenaar, Emmanuelle Munger, Richard Molenkamp, Arco van der Spek, Paulien Tolsma, Ariene Rietveld, Miranda Brouwer, Noortje Bouwmeester-Vincken, Frank Harders, Renate Hakze-van der Honing, Marjolein CA Wegdam-Blans, Ruth J. Bouwstra, Corine GeurtsvanKessel, Annemiek A. van der Eijk, Francisca C. Velkers, Lidwien AM Smit, Arjan Stegeman, Wim HM van der Poel and Marion PG Koopmans, 10 November 2020, Science.
DOI: 10.1126 / science.abe5901

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