In 2007, a previously unrecorded disease, fur animal epidemic necrotic pyoderma (FENP), was detected in farmed mink (Neovision vision), foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and Finnraccoons (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in Finland. Symptoms included severe pyoderma with increased mortality, causing both animal welfare problems and economic losses. In 2011, an epidemiologic questionnaire was mailed to all members of the Finnish Fur Breeders' Association to assess the occurrence of FENP from 2009 through the first 6 months of 2011. The aim was to describe the geographical distribution and detailed clinical signs of FENP, as well as sources of infection and potential risk factors for the disease.
A total of 239 farmers (25%) returned the questionnaire. Clinical signs of FENP were observed in 40% (95% CI 34-46%) of the study farms. In addition, the survey clarified the specific clinical signs for different animal species. The presence of disease was associated with the importation of mink, especially from Denmark (OR 9.3, 95% CI 2.6-33.0). The transmission route between Finnish farms was associated with fur animal purchases. Some risk factors such as the farm type were also indicated. As such, FENP was detected more commonly on farms with more than one species of fur animal in comparison to farms with, for example, only foxes (OR 4.6, 95% CI 2.4-8.6), and the incidence was higher on farms with over 750 breeder mink compared to smaller farms (OR 3.8, 95% CI 1.6-9.0). Contact between fur animals and birds and other wildlife increased the risk of FENP on farms. Responses also indicated that blocking the entry of wildlife to the animal premises protected against FENP.
FENP was most likely introduced to Finland by imported mink and spread further within the country via domestically purchased fur animals. Some potential risk factors, such as the type and size of the farm and contact with wildlife, contributed to the spread of FENP. Escape-proof shelter buildings block the entry of wildlife, thus protecting fur animals against FENP.