Owners of ferrets and Mustelinae in Wales are being encouraged to sign up to a new voluntary register to help contain any possible outbreak of the virus which causes COVID-19 and to provide advice to owners on how to keep themselves and their animals safe.
In Autumn 2020, events in Denmark confirmed it is possible for mink to infect humans with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. Whilst mink farming is banned in the UK, other mammals in the Mustelinae family, such as ferrets, are now known to be highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2.
Research has demonstrated new variants can arise in ferrets and other Mustelinae, and they can spread infection within their own species.
To support keepers, the Great Britain Ferret (and other Mustelinae) Register opens today and will provide updates and guidance from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for those who sign up to it, particularly in dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak associated with kept ferrets or other Mustelinae.
The register, which is for owners in Wales, England and Scotland, is voluntary at this stage.
Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop said:
“This register will be important in protecting human health if variants of SARS-CoV-2 a virus which causes COVID-19 associated with Mustelinae emerge.
“This is a precautionary measure, and will allow us to provide timely and prompt advice to owners should the need arise. By signing up, keepers will be informed on how to reduce the risk of the virus spreading including to their ferrets and themselves. It will also help improve our understanding of the kept ferret population in Wales.
“I encourage all keepers of ferrets or other Mustelinae including polecats, stoats, mink or hybrids of these animals to sign up to the register.”
Keepers of ferrets and other mammals in the Mustelinae family in Wales can register by visiting: Advice for pet owners: coronavirus (COVID-19)