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Spreading the ASF message

25th Oct 2019 / By Rebecca Veale

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies has been spreading the important ASF messages this week. 

Zoe Look EastThe situation in Asia has worsened as the disease continues to spread. The stats now show that over 140 million pigs have been culled in China alone. Officially they have lost over 30-40% of their herd and it is estimated this will continue to rise to around 60% next year leaving a gap that is currently equivalent to the number of pigs across the whole of Europe.

The situation in Eastern Europe continues to be challenging, too, with a large number of commercial pigs culled in Bulgaria and Romania. There is good news in Belgium with only one infected wild boar since July and still no infection has spread into commercial pigs.

It all demonstrates how quickly and easily this virus is transmitted – we are only one flight away from this disease and, as Zoe pointed out on the BBC Look East programme, it may well already be in someone’s fridge.

You can see Zoe's interview here

She said: “Any pig that has access to pork product that contains the virus will get ASF. The spread of ASF in Eastern Europe and the leap into Belgium shows how easily products containing ASF can get into the pig population.”

Zoe appeared with Norfolk pig producer, Simon Watchorn, and they explained to viewers the impact that their actions could have if they brought ASF into the UK in pork products – they asked them to play their role in keeping ASF out of the country.

“Please heed the warnings and do not bring any food product from the continent or anywhere in the world back into the UK,” Simon said.

Whilst the Government’s ASF poster campaign has left a lot to be desired, a few weeks ago Defra Chief Vet, Christine Middlemiss, and Minister Lord Gardiner joined Border Force at Heathrow to see how the two sniffer dogs we have in this country (yes, two) work to keep us safe by detecting pork and illegal items before they enter the country. This was a positive few days which demonstrated the value of a concerted effort to Border Force.

The NPA will continue to push for better control at borders utilising every opportunity to raise awareness of the threat ASF poses to the UK pig herd because the risk is not decreasing and is likely to be sustained for a long while yet.

You can downloaded the updated APHA ASF posters here