Owners of ferrets and other related animals such as minks and weasels in Wales are being given advice on how to keep themselves and their animals safe from possible Covid infections.

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.

While 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.

Now owners are being encouraged to sign up to a new voluntary register to help contain any possible infections.

To support keepers, the Great Britain Ferret (and other Mustelinae) Register will provide updates and guidance from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for those who sign up to it.

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 can register by visiting gov.wales/advice-pet-owners-coronavirus-covid-19