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Food Safety

African Swine Fever - Latest developments

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.

EU preparedness

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 World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS) 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
  • Biosecurity
  • 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.


Evolution of the disease situation in Europe

The disease has been present in Russia since 2007, affecting wild boars and domestic pigs, and has spread in large part of the country. Russia reported to the OIE around 400 outbreaks due to ASF with approximately 12.500 cases in domestic pigs (out of 500.000 susceptible pigs) and 600 cases in wild boar since 2007.

The EU supported the Russian efforts in fighting the disease by providing technical assistance in several occasions.

The entry of the disease via the EU eastern border was expected. The recent cases of ASF confirmed the forecast made by EFSA on the entry of this animal disease in the EU. ASF spread widely in the RF and Belarus, posing a permanent important threat for the EU.

Therefore the EU conducted an intensive prevention campaign, including the increase of awareness, strengthening of surveillance measures and more preventive measures put in place during 2013.

Georgia first reported ASF to the OIE on 5 June 2007, however mass mortality of pigs was reported at least 2 months before. The virus was likely introduced into Georgia by ship waste disposed around the port of Poti and subsequently entered the pig population through pigs fed from this ship waste.

The virus was shown to be Genotype II with a close relationship to virus strains from Southeast Africa (Mozambique, Madagascar and Zambia). The disease then quickly spread through the whole country and abroad.

In Armenia ASF was first reported on 6 August 2007. Azerbaijan only reported outbreaks occurred in January 2008. In the following years it spread into the neighbouring countries of South Caucasus, and then in Russia, where it spread widely.

Currently, the disease is considered endemic in southern Russia and in an area approximately 300 km west from Moscow, both in domestic pigs and in the wild boar. Outbreaks of disease are also frequently reported in other areas in Western Russia.

Ukraine reported ASF in 2012 and in 2014. In 2013, Belarus notified 2 outbreaks of ASF, one of them very close to the border with Lithuania and Poland and reported 27 cases in wild boar.

There is a permanent risk of introduction of ASF into the EU from Russia and Belarus, which has led to the expected introduction towards the west in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

The EU applied all the necessary measures to prevent the further spread of this virus into the EU. These preventive measures included measures for an early detection of the virus on the eastern EU border. A demonstration of the EU capacity to control and contain this disease is its containment in Sardinia for decades without incidents on the continental part of the EU.

The EU is applying all the recommendations by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and is constantly in open dialogue with its trading partners bilaterally and via the World Trade Organization (WTO).