Infection, recovery and re-infection of farmed mink with SARS-CoV-2

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Mink, on a farm with about 15,000 animals, became infected with SARS-CoV-2. Over 75% of tested animals were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA in throat swabs and 100% of tested animals were seropositive. The virus responsible had a deletion of nucleotides encoding residues H69 and V70 within the spike protein gene as well as the A22920T mutation, resulting in the Y453F substitution within this protein, seen previously in mink. The infected mink recovered and after free-testing of 300 mink (a level giving 93% confidence of detecting a 1% prevalence), the animals remained seropositive. During further follow-up studies, after a period of more than 2 months without any virus detection, over 75% of tested animals again scored positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Whole genome sequencing showed that the viruses circulating during this re-infection were most closely related to those identified in the first outbreak on this farm but additional sequence changes had occurred. Animals had much higher levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in serum samples after the second round of infection than at free-testing or during recovery from initial infection, consistent with a boosted immune response. Thus, it was concluded that following recovery from an initial infection, seropositive mink were readily re-infected by SARS-CoV-2.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010068
JournalPLOS Pathogens
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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© 2021 Rasmussen et al.

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