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Another case of African Swine Fever found on Polish farm

8th Aug 2016 / By Alistair Driver

Another case of African swine fever has been detected on a farm in Poland. 

The latest case was identified in four dead animals from a herd of 540 pigs in Wysokie Mazowieckie, an area of Poland already under restriction due to the presence of the notifiable disease. The remaining 536 pigs were slaughtered. 

The disease was first detected in Poland in wild boar in March 2015. Since then a number of other cases have been detected in wild boar plus a handful in domesticated pigs.

But the disease, which has mortality rates of up to 100 per cent, was only found for the first time on a commercial farm in Poland, albeit a small one with just 261 pigs, on June 24, 2016.

Poland is one of four EU countries where the disease has been detected. 

Cases have also been identified in neighbouring Lithuania, including cases in backyard pigs in its restriction zone this summer, and in Latvia and Estonia, where sharp rises in disease levels have been found in wild boar. 

The disease was detected in Russia in 2007 and continues to be a problem there, with 13 cases identified in the past month or so in a combination of backyard pigs and commercial farms, and in Ukraine. 

Other Eastern European EU countries, including Hungary, Romania and Slovakia have put wild boar surveillance areas in place along the borders, part funded by EU programmes.

ASF is described as a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease of pigs and wild boar affecting all age groups. 

With high virulence forms of the virus, ASF is characterized by high fever, loss of appetite, haemorrhages in the skin and internal organs, and death in 2-10 days on average. Mortality rates may be as high as 100 per cent.

Transmission can be through direct contact between sick and healthy animals and through feeding infected meat and via vehicles, implements and clothes, as well as biologic vectors such as soft ticks.

Its arrival on commercial farms in the EU is therefore a notable occurrence.

However, in its most recent update, Defra reassures the industry that, despite this development, the risk of ASF introduction to the UK remains very low, that is 'rare but could occur'. 

The disease itself is still relatively contained in the restriction zones, and EU rules cover the safe trade in meat and other products of animal origin, Defra says.