Evolution of the disease within the EU
Lithuania made in January 2014 the first notification of ASF cases in wild boar, and Poland followed in February 2014. In June and September 2014, Latvia and Estonia respectively also reported ASF.
A summary report of the ASF findings in the EU, in both domestic pigs and in wild boar is available. All epidemiological data indicate that EU has undergone repeated introduction of ASF virus from the Eastern neighbouring countries and, despite this, the EU has managed to contain ASF in close vicinity to the eastern border.
The vast majority of outbreaks and cases are located within 30km from the Belarusian and the RF border with few isolated incidents within a range of tens of km.
The EU Reference Laboratory confirmed, through genetic studies based on sequencing of fragments of virus isolates from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, that there is a 100% homology with the virus strains that circulated in Belarus and Russia proving that it comes from Russia.
The last strengthening of EU preparedness for the spread of the ASF in the EU started after the disease was confirmed in Belarus in June 2013, before the diseases reached the EU borders. This preparedness includes the following actions:
- Strengthening protection measures in the EU Members bordering the RF, including: disinfection of livestock vehicles and checks on personal consignments, suspending livestock markets, enhanced biosecurity on pig farms, awareness campaigns for stakeholders, surveillance and testing of domestic pigs and wild boar, creation of buffer zones and measures to limit wild boar movements across borders, improve laboratory testing, use of wild boar repellents and preventive early slaughter of pigs in risk backyard farms
- Revision of the Member States contingency plans
- Enhanced the diagnostic capabilities of the EU labs
- Providing EU co-financing found of 2.5M EUR for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to support the enhanced protective measures
- Further EU co-financing measures for more than 2M EUR, for 2014, for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland
- The Commission has also ensured: the technical assistance to the EU labs via the EU Reference Laboratory (Valdeolmos, Madrid), the support of EFSA for risk assessment, and the general coordination of Member States actions
- DG SANTE´s directorate for health and food audits and analysis, is verifying the implementation of the contingency plans in Member State to ensure their capability to respond to ASF
- To help the Member States in their preparedness the Commission has recently issued Guidelines on surveillance and control of ASF in feral pigs and preventive measures for pig holdings.
The EU has also provided extensive technical support to Russia and Belarus through the EU Reference Laboratory expert team.
For the most recent list of chronology of main initiative taken or supported by the European Commission please see this table.
Actions put in place in the EU following the first cases in Lithuania
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland notified to the EU Animal Disease Notification System (ADNS) and the OIE through the finding of every ASF case.
To limit the spread of the ASF virus all restrictions required by EU legislation were immediately implemented. These restrictions include:
- Intensified surveillance of wild boars and pigs
- Sending samples to the EU Reference Laboratory in Spain for more detailed analysis
- Keeping pigs isolated in their holding (movement restrictions), unless authorised by the competent authority
The Commission immediately decided to apply the WTO regionalisation principle, in line with the OIE international standards. This measure is aimed at limiting the spread of the disease and protecting the domestic pig populations from this infection.
A specific map visualising the current implementation of regionalisation can be found here.
The Commission swiftly deployed the Community Veterinary Emergency Team (CVET) and the EU Reference Laboratory for ASF in all four countries with the intent to support the veterinary authorities to apply control measures and restrictions. Experts from the OIE, as well as Russia and Belarus were invited to join the emergency team.
The CVET recommendation focused on:
- Surveillance in wild boar and domestic pigs
- Standstill and movement control
- Carcass disposal
- Swill feeding
- Awareness campaign
- Hunting practices
In relation to the mechanism of introduction of the infection, there were several working hypothesis being assessed. The most likely hypothesis appears to be linked with the crossing of the border by infected wild boars or by smuggling of infected products by private citizens.
For more details please refer to the presentations of the Member States and the CVET available here.