The Dutch agriculture ministry said on Monday that a second worker has likely been infected with coronavirus on a mink farm, but stressed that the risk of further contagion remains very low.
In a letter to parliament, Carola Schouten, minister of agriculture, nature and food quality, said a second case has become known in which SARS-CoV-2 was passed from a mink to a human on one of the farms where the animals are bred for fur.
But Schouten said that the Dutch health authorities believe the risk of human exposure to the virus outside the barns where the mink were being kept was “negligible.”
On April 26, the Dutch government reported that mink on two farms in the south of the country had been found to have the virus, triggering a wider investigation.
Last week, the government reported its first suspected case of mink-to-human transmission. As a result Schouten and health minister Hugo de Jonge introduced new measures, including screening mink at all farms in the Netherlands for antibodies and requirements for staff members to wear protective equipment.
There have been several cases of infections in animals since the pandemic went global. News in February that a Hong Kong pet dog had tested “weak-positive” for COVID-19 sparked panic that domestic dogs and cats could be transmitters of the virus.
On April 5, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for coronavirus after developing a respiratory illness, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
But health experts have repeatedly sought to reassure the public that people and pets cannot pass the coronavirus to one another.
Both the World Organisation for Animal Health, based in France, and the CDC have said there is no evidence that companion animals such as cats and dogs can spread the virus. “Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare,” the animal-health organization said.