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ASF found in wild boar in Serbia

21st Jan 2020 / By Alistair Driver

African swine fever (ASF) has been found in hunting territory in Serbia, the country’s first outbreak since August.

wild boar 5OIE, the World Organisation for Animal Health, reported that the virus had been confirmed in seven wild boar in various locations, with the outbreaks dating back to early January. It was notified in mid-January.

The state Tanjug news agency said the cases have been found in the east of the country, close to its borders with Bulgaria and Romania, which both struggled to contain the virus during 2019.

The disease was discovered in two hunting grounds in Pirot and Kladovo, Tanjug reported, quoting Sasa Ostojic, the head of the national veterinary Crisis Centre, Reuters reports.

This represents the re-emergence of the disease in Serbia, after several pig farms were affected in August.

The authorities have ordered the shooting of boars to contain the disease. “They (boars) are having more and more such cases (of ASF) and it was expected it could spread to our regions,” Mr Ostojic was quoted as saying.

Poland and Germany discuss further action

Reuters is also reporting that Germany and Poland are discussing new action to prevent the spread of ASF in Poland, close to the German border. OIE reports show Poland recorded 55 outbreaks of ASF in wild boars in various locations in December, including cases just 30km from the German border.

Germany’s agriculture minister, Julia Kloeckner and her Polish counterpart Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski met in Berlin and agreed new measures to try and contain the ASF outbreak in Poland and prevent it spreading to Germany.

This included setting up a fenced corridor along the border and a ‘drastic reduction in the wild boar density, for example through shooting as an effective preventative measure’, the German ministry said. Germany has already relaxed some restrictions on wild boar hunting.

German regional state governments in Brandenburg and Saxony have already started building fences along the Polish border, while Germany’s government is considering new regulations allowing temporary anti-wild boar fencing to be set up to seal off an area should a case be found in Germany, the ministry added.

ASF in Europe

The latest update on ASF in Europe from the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) shows that Romania (42) was the only country to report outbreaks in domestic pigs in the first half of December.

However, cases in wild boar were reported in nine countries, led by Poland (156), Hungary (77), Bulgaria (38) and Romania (38).

UK risk status

Commenting on the risk of the virus reaching the UK, APHA states: “The risk remains at medium for the entry of contaminated or infected products into UK at present.

“Border checks on passengers are paramount, as are publicity campaigns aimed at reaching the travelling public and reminding them that bringing back products of animal origin from outside the EU or from a region in the EU under disease restrictions is not allowed.

“Commercially produced products which can be safely traded in the EU will be labelled as such.

“Home produced products are a particular concern. Travellers from an affected area in the EU or anywhere in Asia and Africa must not bring back products of pig origin – including ham, sausages or pâté – or any equipment or other goods which could potentially be contaminated with ASF virus to the UK.

“Travellers from Asia and other third country areas who bring meat or dairy products can also face prosecution and a large fine. Disease can be spread by pig keepers and members of the public feeding catering waste, kitchen scraps or pork products to their animals.

“It is illegal to do so. The risk of exposure to the pig population in the UK is still highly dependent on the level of biosecurity on individual pig premises but is still considered to be low. We will continue to monitor the situation.”