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African swine fever confirmed in domestic pigs in Germany for first time

16th Jul 2021 / By Alistair Driver

African swine fever (ASF) has been discovered in domestic pigs in Germany for the first time, with two farms affected in the east of the country.

FLI mapTwo farms are affected in the Brandenburg region in the east of the country, close to the Polish order – an organic farm in the Spree-Neisse district, at which a sow died, an and a smallholding with just two pigs Märkisch-Oderland.

All the pigs on both holdings will be culled and restriction zones are being set up by the local authorities, out of which the movement of live pigs and pig products will be banned.

The Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI), Germany’s National Reference Laboratory for ASF, confirmed the cases on Thursday evening. 

Both cases are existing ASF zones, although the cause of the two cases is ‘unclear’, the FLI said.

More than 1,200 cases of ASF in wild boar have now been confirmed in Brandenburg and neighbouring Saxony since ASF was first discovered in Brandenburg’s Spree-Neisse district in September 2020. Since then, 103 cases have been confirmed in the Spree-Neisse district and 261 in the Märkisch-Oderland district.

FLI president Dr Thomas C. Mettenleiter said: “Unfortunately, these cases do not come as a complete surprise. An entry in German domestic pig populations had to be expected at the latest since the detection of the infection in wild boars in Germany in September 2020.”

“In its risk assessment to exercise and pasture land conversations from April, FLI stressed how important the protection of pigs was, especially in the core zone and in the vulnerable zone.”

The ASF virus can be transmitted from wild boars to domestic pigs through both direct and indirect contact, the FLI said.

The infection usually occurs oro-nasally. The pathogen is very stable and remains infectious in the environment for a long time. Therefore, it can be transmitted through raw or insufficiently heated meat products, contaminated feed, vehicles, clothing and tools, among other things.

The discovery will come as a blow to the German pig industry, as it works to re-establish its pork export markets, lost after the initial emergence of ASF in wild boar.