Associations between biosecurity and outbreaks of canine distemper on Danish mink farms in 2012-2013

Louise Gregers-Jensen, Jens Frederik Agger, Anne Sofie Vedsted Hammer, Lars Andresen, Mariann Chriél, Emma Hagberg, Mette Kragh Jensen, Mette Sif Hansen, Charlotte Kristiane Hjulsager, Tina Struve

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During 8 months from July 2012 to February 2013, a major outbreak of canine distemper involving 64 mink farms occurred on the Danish peninsula of Jutland. The canine distemper outbreak was associated with exposure of farmed mink to infected wild carnivores and could represent a deficit in biosecurity on the mink farms. The aim of this study was to investigate the extent and association of specific biosecurity measures with the outbreak. The study was carried out in an epidemiological case-control design. The case group consisted of the 61 farms, which had a confirmed outbreak of canine distemper from July 2012 to February 2013. The control group included 54 farms without an outbreak of canine distemper in 2012 or 2013, selected as the closest geographical neighbour to a case farm. The results showed that significantly more control than case farms had vaccinated their mink against canine distemper virus. Mortality was only assessed on the case farms, and there was a non-significantly lower mortality on vaccinated farms than on the non-vaccinated farms. Furthermore, the proportion of farms with observations of wild red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) inside the farm enclosures were larger for case farms, indicating that the control farms had a better biosecurity or were not equally exposed to canine distemper virus. Generally, all farms had very few specific precautions at the gate entrance in respect to human visitors as well as animals. The use of biosecurity measures was very variable in both case and control farms. Not using plastic boot covers, presence of dogs and cats, presence of demarcated area for changing clothes when entering and leaving the farm area and presence of hand washing facilities significantly lowered the odds of the farm having a canine distemper virus outbreak. The results of the study indicate that consistent use of correct vaccination strategies, implementation of biosecurity measures and limiting human and animal access to the mink farm can be important factors in reducing the risk for canine distemper outbreaks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number66
JournalActa Veterinaria Scandinavica (Online)
Issue number1
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Canine distemper virus
  • Biosecurity
  • Mink
  • Neovision vision


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