Sweden confirms first case of African swine fever
7th Sep 2023 / By Alistair Driver
Sweden’s Veterinary Institute has confirmed the country's first case of African swine fever (AFF) in wild boar.
Seven dead wild boar were found in Fagersta, about 200 kilometres (124 miles) north-west of Stockholm – one has tested positve and more tests are being conducted, the said on Wednesday, Reuters reports.
The case represents another major leap for the virus, particularly with Sweden separated by sea from other infected countries.
“At present, we do not know how the infection got in, but it is a long jump from the nearest infected area in Europe, and we therefore assume that it has happened through humans and not wild boar,” it said.
The virus can be spread via pork or by carrying it on shoes or clothes, tools or vehicles.
News of yet another country recording its first ASF follows soon after the virus was detected on farms in northern Italy for the first time.
After initially being suspected on August 17, ASF was confirmed on a small farm in the Pavia province in the pig-dense Lombardy region, where it had already been found in hundreds of wild boar.
It was then confirmed on two more farms close to each other, near Zinasco, in the same province, by the end of August. According to local reports, on one, with around 1,000 pigs in total, hundreds of pigs died in the fortnight before ASF was confirmed.
ASF virus is now present in four regions in Italy, after being detected in wild boar in January 2022.
Balkans cases on the rise
There has also been a marked increase in ASF outbreaks in the Balkans. Between late-June and mid-August, reports have been submitted of between 240 and 400 outbreaks in domestic pigs in each of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Romania, the Animal and Plant Health Agency reports in its latest European ASF update.
Long-distance spread to domestic pigs has happened across Bosnia and Herzegovina and in wild boar in Croatia.
Domestic cases have also been reported in Bulgaria, Greece, Latvia, Moldova, North Macedonia, Poland, Russia and Ukraine in July and August.
Cases in wild boarhave been reported in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Romania, plus the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, North Macedonia, Poland, Russia and Ukraine.
Commenting before the latest outbreaks were confirmed in Italy and Sweden, APHA said: "The rapid spread of ASF among domestic pig farms in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina following disease introduction in June, although expected, is a considerable increase in the range of ASF.
"Initial outbreaks in both countries were reported in domestic pigs, mostly in smallholdings close to borders with known ASF affected countries. Since then, long distance spread to domestic pigs across Bosnia and Herzegovina has occurred, and ASF-infected wild boar have been detected in Croatia in regions distant to the initial detected infected area."
"ASF is still circulating in wild boar across much of eastern Europe. While the number of outbreaks in domestic pigs and cases reported in wild boar decreased considerably in 2022, the marked uptick in domestic pig outbreaks in Romania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, and in wild boar in Latvia shows that this trend has not continued into 2023."
UK risk assessment
"Given the above, we consider that the risk of entry of ASF virus in live animals and products of animal origin (POAO) from affected countries, remains at MEDIUM (occurs regularly)," APHA added.
"The potential high risk for non-commercial imports of pork products from ASF affected areas remains of high concern. Evidence from inspections at Great Britain ports suggest that there are several vehicles illegally bringing pork meat into Great Britain from some regions of the EU affected by ASF.
"Some of these instances involved large quantities of porcine POAO, some of which appear to be home-slaughtered and arrive in Great Britain from an undisclosed origin as a non-commercial import, with poor levels of biosecurity and food hygiene.
"Therefore, the risk of ASF entering Great Britain, from the human-mediated pathway and moving porcine POAO, is considered to remain at HIGH (occurs very often), though there is considerable uncertainty around this until data is fully collated and analysed, and we will reassess as further information becomes available."
APHA issued a reminder that on September 1, 2022, strict new controls were introduced, meaning it is no longer legal to personally bring in pork or pork products weighing over 2kg unless they are produced to the EU’s commercial standards.
This does not apply to commercial imports, which remain unaffected by the control, but Great Britain will be bringing in further controls.
Although this legislation does not currently apply to non-commercial imports of pork products less than 2 kg from the EU, all travelers are strongly advised to avoid bringing, buying, ordering on the internet, or requesting any pork products – for example, fresh or frozen meat, dried or cured meats, sausages, salamis, or pâté – back to the UK from affected parts of Europe. It remains illegal for travelers to import meat or dairy products from Asia and other non-EU country areas.
APHA also reminded pig keepers that:
- Swill feeding any animal, whether pigs, poultry, ruminants, or wildlife is illegal and has the potential to cause substantial harm.
- All pig keepers, pig producers, smallholders, and the general public to ensure pigs are not fed catering waste, kitchen scraps or pork products, thereby observing the swill feeding ban.
- All pig keepers, whether commercial holdings or not, should remain vigilant and ensure that any visitors or seasonal workers have not had any recent contact with pigs, pig products, pig premises, wild boar (including hunting) or equipment associated with such activities in the affected regions in Europe or other affected parts of the world. Proper training should be provided.
- Pig keepers and veterinarians should remind themselves of the clinical signs for ASF. Any suspect cases must be reported promptly.
- See https://www.gov.uk/guidance/african-swine-fever for more information.