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ASF continues to spread in Eastern Europe

18th Jan 2017 / By Alistair Driver

African Swine Fever (ASF) continues to spread in wild boar and on farms in Eastern Europe, causing significant cost and disruption. 

wild boarLatvia has just confirmed its first case of ASF in a domestic pig herd in winter. The farm, with more than 5,000 animals, is the largest affected so far. 

Pigs are being culled on the central Latvian farm and the source of infection is being investigated by the veterinary authorities and the Latvian State Police, according to media reports.

So far this year, the disease has been found in 43 wild boars in Latvia alongside this first case in domestic pigs in 2017.

In 2016, ASF was discovered in domestic pigs on three Latvian farms, with more than 300 pigs culled across them. It was also found in 1,146 wild boars. The ASF outbreak started in Latvia in June 2014 not far from the border with Belarus.

The latest update from the OIE, the global animal health body, shows cases have continued to be identified in the first two weeks of 2017, despite the cold winter weather, on domestic and backyard farms and in wild boar in Russia, Ukraine and Poland. Moldova reported its first outbreak a few months ago.

Spreading west

In his latest column for Pig World, Russian journalist Vladislav Vorotnikov highlighted the scale of the ASF problem in the region and warned it is spreading west. 

He said ASF-related losses in Ukraine amounted to an estimated £30.4m in 2016, including a big chunk attributed to lost exports.

He added: "Just as in Russia, the situation is worsening in Ukraine, because farmers are covering-up outbreaks. In Russia, farmers or regional veterinary officials could be held criminally liable for ASF outbreaks.

"To avoid dealing with the law enforcement agencies, some farmers are culling infected pigs and burying corpses in the forest, where the virus can live for decades.

"Moldova reported its first ASF outbreak on October 6 and Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor has suggested ASF is moving west with an average speed of 100 – 150 km per year.

"So, this year, the virus may get close to Romania, central regions of Poland and we might even see it identified in Germany."