SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks on Danish mink farms and mitigating public health interventions

Torben Dall Schmidt*, Timo Friedel Mitze

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: First severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections on Danish mink farms were reported in June 2020 and thereupon spread geographically. We provide population-level evidence on excess human incidence rates in Danish municipalities affected by disease outbreaks on mink farms and evaluate the effectiveness of two non-pharmaceutical interventions, i.e. culling of infected mink and local lockdowns. METHODS: We use information on SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks on mink farms in 94 Danish municipalities together with data on human SARS-CoV-2 cases and tested persons in Weeks 24-51 of 2020. Difference-in-difference estimation and panel event studies for weekly human incidence rates are applied to (i) identify epidemiological trends of human SARS-CoV-2 infections associated with disease outbreaks on mink farms, and (ii) quantify the mitigating effects from the two non-pharmaceutical interventions. RESULTS: SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks on mink farms in a municipality associate with an increase in weekly human incidence rates by about 75%; spatial spillover effects to neighbouring municipalities are also observed. Local lockdowns reduce human incidence rates, while culling of mink appears to be more effective in combination with a lockdown. The temporal lag between an outbreak on a mink farm and a significant increase in human incidence rates is estimated to be 1-3 weeks; lockdowns and culling of mink neutralize this effect 4-8 weeks after the initial outbreak. CONCLUSIONS: SARS-CoV-2 infections among farmed mink in Denmark significantly link to local human infection trends. Strict animal and human disease surveillance in regions with mink farming should be pursued internationally to mitigate future epidemic developments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)151-157
Publication statusPublished - 1. Feb 2022


  • SARS-CoV-2
  • infected farmed mink
  • human infections
  • non-pharmaceutical interventions
  • public health
  • difference-in-difference estimation
  • Public Health
  • Humans
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • COVID-19
  • Denmark/epidemiology
  • Animals
  • Farms
  • Mink
  • Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control


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