Addressing Avian Influenza on Domestic Fur Farms: A Statement from the U.S. Fur Industry
Recent record outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza in Finland have led to the ordered culling of mink on farms, sparking global attention. While certainly a cause for concern, here in the U.S. no such outbreaks have occurred to date and the industry continues to work with federal and state health officials to monitor the situation.
Farms in the U.S. present a lesser risk than those in Finland.
The U.S. mink industry operates on a different scale and geographical landscape than Finland. U.S. mink farms are spread across 14 rural states, providing a natural buffer for disease containment rather than operating in dense population areas adjacent to poultry operations and urban settings. The industry has had zero mink farm outbreaks, even amidst record poultry incidents in 2022.
Furthermore, domestic farms engage in rigorous biosecurity measures and monitoring.
U.S. Fur Farm Biosecurity
All U.S. farms have been instructed to adhere to the CDC's One Health protocols, USDA Guidance to Prevent Respiratory Viruses like SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza on Mink Farms, as well as recommendations from State Health Departments and the National Veterinary Service Lab (NVSL). Moreover, U.S. mink breeders have long followed strict biosecurity measures as part of a proactive animal welfare protocol, as minks are highly susceptible to a range of diseases originating from both humans and wildlife.
U.S. farms participate in a certification program administered by the Fur Commission USA and peer-reviewed by PAACO, the organization that peer-reviews the major U.S. animal agriculture certification programs. The farms are third party inspected for compliance. Certification requirements include biosecurity standards, which are organized into four primary areas: the physical layout of the farm, incoming deliveries, farm employees, and farm visitors. Farms undergo regular third-party inspections to ensure compliance.
Should a farmer notice possible symptoms in the herd, industry veterinarians are available for immediate consultation and testing of the animals.
Guidance for Farmers
Farmers, be on the lookout for H5N1 symptoms like sudden death or respiratory distress among mink. Expert veterinarians are available for immediate consultation and testing.
The FCUSA is the National Trade Association representing the Mink Producers of the United States. We are committed to ensuring the health and well-being of our animals and those who come in contact with them. We continue to liaise closely with federal, state, and local agencies to implement all necessary precautions for protecting both humans and wildlife from the spread of Avian Influenza.
For more information on mink farm biosecurity and prevention measures, see;