Avian influenza has so far been diagnosed in two fur farms during the surveys on mink farms

October 10/2023

In the first results of the avian influenza survey of mink farms, avian influenza has been detected in two farms. Avian influenza was found in mink farms in the municipalities of Vöyri and Pedersöre located in Ostrobothnia. So far, samples from 35 mink farms included in the survey have been analysed in the Finnish Food Authority's laboratory tests.

Last summer, avian influenza infections in fur animals were discovered in northern farms and have since been found in a total of 27 farms in four regions. In order to assess the avian influenza situation, the Finnish Food Authority launched monitoring on all fur farms in mid-September. In the first phase of the survey, samples from mink farms are examined, as avian influenza infections in mink pose a greater risk to human health than avian influenza infections in other fur animals.

So far, samples have been taken from 53 fur farms. The Regional State Administrative Agency for Western and Inland Finland is responsible for organising sampling and coordinating the survey for the whole of Finland. The majority of Finnish fur farms are located in the area of the Regional State Administrative Agency for Western and Inland Finland. Finland has 114 fur farms with minks. Avian influenza has been detected on five of these farms before the survey.

At the beginning of the survey, blood samples were taken from the farms for antibody testing and dead animals for virus detection (PCR study). Starting from the beginning of week 40, only blood samples are taken for the survey. The purpose of the change was to speed up the progress of the survey so that any infected mink farms could be screened before the start of the influenza season.

Antibodies from influenza A virus in fur animals are first tested using the ELISA method. Antibody-positive samples are confirmed with the HI method (hemagglutination inhibition). The method examines the binding of antibodies in the sample to the HA protein of influenza A virus isolated from fur farms. The test accurately detects antibodies to the H5 virus.

The Finnish Food Authority will order the putting down of the animals whose samples show antibodies to H5 avian influenza. The first phase of monitoring mink farms for avian influenza is expected to be completed by the end of October, after which monitoring and sampling will take place at fox and raccoon dog farms.

More information:

Terhi Laaksonen, Director, tel. +358 29 520 4530 (Animal Health and Medication)
Research Professor Tuija Gadd, tel. +358 29 520 4183 (virological studies)

E-mail: firstname.lastname@ruokavirasto.fi

Read more:

Avian influenza
Zoonoses on Finnish fur farms – risk profile (pdf)
More information on the risk to human health of avian influenza (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, in Finnish and Swedish only)
Instructions of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health on protection against an avian influenza infection (FIOH, in Finnish and Swedish only)