Tijs Tobias, DVM, PhD, MSc

Utrecht University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Population Health Sciences, Farm Animal Health unit
the Netherlands

KEYNOTE SESSION - Healthy pigs, healthy humans

"Zoonotic threat: the mink experience"
Thursday, 12th May 2022

Tijs Tobias (DVM, PhD, MSc, Dipl ECPHM) is an assistant professor in porcine health management at Utrecht University and a registered veterinary epidemiologist. His research focuses on epidemiology of infectious diseases as well as animal welfare of pigs. Dr. Tobias is involved in national and European projects regarding e.g. Hepatitis E virus and Influenza virus in pigs and serves as an expert for national and European bodies regarding pig welfare. Tijs Tobias served as secretary of the ECPHM from 2018-2021. He is a member of the Dutch Animal Welfare committee for Notifiable disease control.


In the early phase of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, spring 2020, SARS-CoV-2 was identified as cause of disease and mortality in farmed minks. Initially, SARS-CoV-2 was first discovered on mink farms in the Netherlands and soon after similar observations were made worldwide. Upon confirmation of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from farmed mink to humans in May 2020, it was decided to cull the mink on infected farms. During summer of 2020, enforced infection prevention measures in remaining mink farms proved to be insufficient as new cases kept emerging. End of august it was advised to bring forward the total ban on mink farming in the Netherlands from 2023 and the Dutch government decided as such based on this advice. From end of 2020, all farmed mink are extinct in the Netherlands. The operations in Dutch mink farms have come to an abrupt ending.
The potential of infection of SARS-CoV-2 in pigs has been studied and published rapidly and the findings are reassuring, so far. However, SARS-CoV-2 is evolving and validity of findings may expire upon findings of new variants of concern and also potentially in the case of finding “disease X” in pig farming. The lessons learned and the responsibility of the veterinarian on pig farms will be explored.