IFASA 2016 Highlights (in English)

IFASA 2016 Highlights (in English)

IFASA 2016 Highlights

The 11th IFASA-congres was held in Helsinki. There were around 150 participants from all over the world. Here we will present our highlights. The veterinarians from Ampart can discuss the matters in more detail during their next farm visit.

Footrot (Fur Animal Epidemic Pyoderma)

Footrot epidemics are reported from all over the word and is one of the diseases with the highest impact at the moment. A lot is still unclear regarding the causal factors of footrot and in which way you can combat this disease. The last years a few bacteria have constantly been associated with the presence of footrot wounds. The presented researched focused on the bacteria Arcanobacterium phocae and Streptococcus halichoeri.

Spreading of bacteria

Finnish research showed results of the spread of the footrot bacterium A. phocae on an infected farm. Samples were taken from mink and on many different places in the farm. They could show the presence of the bacteria on throat swabs of healthy mink. The bacteria seem to spread very easily from infected cages to neighbouring cages. They could also show the presence of the bacteria in the catching gloves, but not on the feeding machines. Also the possibility exists that the bacteria are spread via rats and mice, but more samples need to be analysed to validate this statement. Follow-up studies will focus on the development of an effective decontamination protocol.

Experimental infection

Danish researchers showed that experimental infection with the two known footrot bacteria cause footrot-like wounds in mink. It seems that the combination of A. Phocae and S. halichoeri is necessary to cause the wounds. In their research they infected mink in three ways, by injecting the bacteria in a self-made wound on the leg of mink.

  • Only with Arcanobacterium phocae
  • Only with Streptococcus halichoeri
  • Infect with both bacteria

Exposure to both bacteria led to a wound after three days similar to footrot-wounds. The animals became very sick and were directly euthanized. The animals exposed to one of the bacteria did not develop these characteristics wounds of footrot. In Finland similar research was done (not presented). They told they found similar results in their studies.

Aleutian Disease

Outbreak in Denmark

In 2015 a large outbreak of AD occurred in Denmark. A large number of farms has pelted down their mink. The coming period will show if they managed to keep the spreading of the infection under control. To gain more insight where this infection originated from, they looked into the strain-type of this AD virus and compared it to strains present in other countries. It is concluded that the large outbreak on Jutland and Funen (the so-called ‘Holstebro’ outbreak) was caused by a single strain, with no known connection to other strains world wide. The date indicate that spreading/introduction via the feed is most likely. The outbreak in Sealand is also an unique cluster, with a possible link to Sweden.


Research from Spain focused on giving insight into the spread of AD-virus within the farm. And how you can adapt your hygiene protocol. Simple coveralls do not give sufficient protection, as the clothes underneath became virus positive. Also shoe covers seem insufficient. It is advisable to critically check the current hygiene protocol on the farm if it minimizes the risk of AD virus entry.

Selection of AD resistant animals

A Canadian researcher presented a bold statement that the usage of the current AD ELISA is not good enough to select AD resistant animals. He has developed an alternative test. Hereby they analyze the ratio of immunoglobulins in blood, as this value better predicts if animals develop disease after AD-infection. We shall inform you in the future more about this new test.


A few presentations dealt with the newest technologies which can be used for genetics. In other animal sectors (e.g Dairy and Pigs) genomic selection is fully in use. Herefore they make a map of all genetic material from animals with wanted characteristics (eg size, health, and quality). When this info is known you can select your breeding animals with a blood sample, without weighing or grading. De first steps have now been made for the mink by assembly of the mink genome (all genetic material). The next years this will be futher developed.



The Danish research farms is doing research into the levels of different vitamins and minerals. Without extra supplementation in the feed of minerals (like iron, copper and selenium) the feed contained from the used ingredient sufficient levels of these minerals (compared to the current norm levels). Zinc was at the border level of the norm. The evidence is increasing that the concentration of vitamins in the feed can also be unnecessary too high. A study showed consequences of different levels of vitamins in the feed.

Analysis of mortality

The Danish research farm was curious why they noticed large difference in mortality between their brown and black strain during the growth season (higher for the blacks). They found that their black strain seemed quite sensitive for developing kidney and testis inflammation. These results show that it is useful to analyse the causes of mortality on the farm. These info can be used to adapt the breeding plan.



Stereotypies develop when the surroundings of the animals do not comply with their needs. By selecting on this behavior you can lower the number of animals with this behavior. There are different stereotypies known in mink. Canadian research focused on the question if compulsive scratching towards the side-panel of the cages is a form of stereotypy in mink. The looked into the relation between compulsive scratching of males and the presence or absence of males in the neighboring cages. They showed that males with this behavior focused on the cage with a male present. The behavior was less shown if the neighboring male was removed. They concluded that compulsive scratching is different from other stereotypies. It could be playing behavior or defense of their territory.

Nesting Material

It is known that mainly the first days after whelping the biggest mortality of pups is registered. With the usage of video recordings of deliveries, they showed that the nest average is lowered from 9.6 pups born to 6.2 live pups after seven days. A large study is performed to see how they can reduce this mortality. The focus of the presented research was on testing a combination of nest insertion (stone or pressed straw) in combination with straw (with wool) or easy stroe. With the usage of straw they noticed lower mortality in the first week with the pressed straw insertion than with a stone. The reason for this is probably the better nest climate. More research will focus on what should be the best nest climate: which temperature and humidity, and which nesting materials together provide the best structure.