African swine fever: High infection pressure ...
African swine fever

High infection pressure in Poland

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Group of wild boars. The black boars are dragging African swine fever (ASF) into the European Union.
Group of wild boars. The black boars are dragging African swine fever (ASF) into the European Union.

GERMANY, Schwerin | Dresden. The events surrounding African swine fever (ASF) have recently disappeared from the media headlines.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Till Backhaus, warned last week, however, that there is still a high risk of introduction from Poland. For example, he said, there had recently been evidence of ASF in a wild boar in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship. "Even though things have quieted down around African swine fever in the media at the moment, the danger has by no means been averted," he said. Information about new ASF cases is regularly reported from Brandenburg, Italy and Eastern Europe, he said. "In particular, the pressure of infection from Poland remains high and puts the authorities in this country on heightened alert," Backhaus noted.

He added that the current case in the immediate vicinity shows how important artificially created barriers are to restrict the migration of wild boar and thus prevent the spread of the disease to the west. "Those who still question the fence construction measures along the Polish border against this background are, in my eyes, not acting in a knowledge-based manner and seem to put their own interests before the common good," Backhaus complained. He therefore hoped that the fence construction work in the district of Vorpommern-Greifswald would progress quickly. The goal is to soon have a protective corridor in which the wild boar population can be reduced to a maximum in order to continue to protect Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania from a widespread introduction of ASF, he said.

According to the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), by last Wednesday there had been a total of 3,523 official detections of ASF across Germany in the three affected states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, including four in domestic pig farms.

Researchers investigate outbreak

The ASF infections of feral pigs in Meißen County, Saxony, in October and November 2021 were most likely not caused by an introduction of other feral pigs from eastern Saxony, but were an epidemic in their own right. As Saxony's Ministry of Social Affairs announced, a model-based study by researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig has now come to this conclusion. According to this, an introduction by other black coats should have occurred and been detected much earlier. Therefore, the virus transmission must have occurred by another route, probably through the human factor, for example, through improperly disposed of food waste, the researchers said. "This modeling result confirms to us how important it remains for the public to help fight this animal disease," said Sebastian Vogel, head of the ASF crisis unit in Saxony.

Food remains should not be carelessly thrown away, but disposed of in the designated containers. On the other hand, the result also means that the outbreaks in the wild boar population of Meißen County must be treated as an independent event, he said. "This means that the erection of fences with a simultaneous reduction of the wild boar population and the recovery of dead animals are the only possible and the right measures," Vogel emphasized. This has worked, he said, and so far transmission to domestic pig populations has been prevented.

Closures along highways

In northern Italy, according to the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Umbria (IZSUM), the number of ASF cases in the wild boar population has risen to 46 by the beginning of March. There were 25 virus detections near Alessandria in the Piemonte region and 21 ASF carcasses found near Genoa in the Liguria region. Recently, only a few cases were added on a weekly basis. Domestic pigs have not been affected so far. In order to keep it that way and to bring the animal disease under control, the Italian authorities have decided, according to the information portal "PigProgress", to erect feral pig barriers parallel to the A7 and A26 highways running from north to south. Thus, the infection zone is to be fenced with about 116 km of wild boar barriers. The entire fence is to be completed by the end of the summer and is expected to cost around twelve million euros. There are also plans to massively reduce the wild boar population in the fenced-off area by shooting them.

Source: fleischwirtschaft.de; AgE

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