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Defra levels up risk rating of ASF as new cases found

3rd Aug 2017 / By Andrea Vickers

Defra levels up risk rating of ASF as new cases found

Defra will be raising the risk level of African Swine Fever from ‘very low’ to ‘low’ following recent cases discovered in Romania the Czech Republic and Poland. 

The tool that Defra uses to measure risk uses a number of factors such as trade with the country, distribution of disease and confidence in controls by the country affected.  Whilst there are now two outbreaks in Romania, they are linked and thought to have resulted from infected meat coming in from the Ukraine being fed to pigs.  Perhaps more concerning is that there are now 76 cases in wild boar in the Czech Republic which means the disease is spreading and the situation in Poland is deteriorating.  There have been 29 outbreaks in Poland this year in domestic pigs, mostly backyard but a couple of commercial herds. In the last 2 weeks, four of the outbreaks have been in a Part 1 zone (defined as an area where cases should only be seen in wild boar, not domestic pigs). This suggests that their standards have lapsed as they should be operating on increased surveillance, good biosecurity and heightened awareness. It is thought that the requirements relating to back yard pig ownership have been relaxed which has allowed the disease to spread into areas that it is not expected. It is for these reasons that Defra has raised the threat level.

Defra are planning to start phase two of their communication plan to remind all pig keepers the penalties involved if found feeding kitchen scraps and to warn anyone travelling to affected areas of the contamination risk.  This will also involve cross industry action to communicate these serious messages to all types of pig keeper – from small holder to larger commercial businesses in an attempt to reduce the risk of the disease reaching these shores.  This is particularly important considering there are clearly some out there (read more here)  that still think it is worth taking the risk.