Genetic analysis finds no concerning mutations in coronavirus affecting B.C. mink farm
Denmark has ordered the slaughter of all of the country's minks, estimated at up to 17 million. (AFP)
VANCOUVER -- Genetic analysis of the coronavirus found in humans and animals at a mink farm in the Fraser Valley has shown no concerning mutations, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Researchers performed "whole genome sequencing" on the strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, found in five mink and five humans at the beginning of the outbreak at the B.C. mink farm, the BCCDC said in a news release Wednesday.
"The results show the people and animals were infected with an identical or nearly identical strain," the centre said in its release. "The strain detected has been circulating in people in B.C., indicating COVID-19 spread from people to animals and not the other way around."
Researchers did find one common mutation in both the animals and the farm workers, but the mutation was not in the virus' spike protein, as has been reported in other mink farm outbreaks around the world.
Spike protein mutations are worrying because they could affect the immune system's ability to detect the infection, as many vaccines train the immune system to block the spike protein.
Millions of mink in Denmark were killed in November because of a concerning mutation of the spike protein in the coronavirus detected there.
Neither the mutation nor the outbreak at the B.C. mink farm poses an increased risk to human health, the BCCDC said Wednesday.
A total of 17 COVID-19 infections are associated with the outbreak at the Fraser Valley farm, which has been quarantined, the BCCDC said.
With files from AFP.