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Poland: African Swine Fever getting under control

African Swine Fever (ASF) is getting under control in Poland. The country’s chief veterinary officer said the virus is not likely to spread further.

Marek Pirsztuk, chief veterinary officer warned the national Polish radio broadcasting organisation Radio Poland for too much optimism though, "We are managing to contain ASF in Poland in a small area near the border with Belarus; however a complete eradication of this disease is currently impossible."

He added, "New cases are appearing, but they are near areas where the disease had already been detected earlier."

In total 74 outbreaks of ASF

Official figures, reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) confirm Pirsztuk's story. Since its initial appearance in Poland in February 2014, 74 cases of ASF have been reported to the OIE. There have been three outbreaks in very small farms, with 8, 7 and 1 pig respectively. Each of the outbreaks happened in Podlaskie province, roughly 25 km from the border with Belarus.

ASF biosecurity area in Poland

In order to stop the disease from spreading, a biosecurity area for the region has been announced in April to limit the spread of the disease. Of the 1,800 farms which grow swine in the area, 255 have decided to stop in return for compensation.

Wild boar culling has made the number of wild boars in the area drop from 12,000 to 9,000.

Read more: How Poland controls African Swine Fever

Developing a rapid diagnostic test

There might be a positive side to all outbreaks as well. Prof Krzysztof Niemczuk, director of the Polish National Veterinary Research Institute in Pulawy, stated that the experiences gained from managing ASF could prove useful, as they could be used for developing a new rapid diagnostic test for use directly at farms. It might take up to five years to develop a test like this.

The instutute tested 4,000 samples from boars and 9,000 from pigs in the first six months of 2015.

African Swine Fever situation in Estonia

In neighbouring Estonia, two small farms and one backyard farm had to be emptied due to the discovery of African Swine Fever last week. The smaller farms had 355 and 191 pigs on-site, whereas the backyard farm just had one pig.

How exactly the virus entered the farms is unclear. To Estonia's biggest weekly newspaper Maaleht, the owner Andrus Jõemaa said that it might have been brought in on foot, or with feed. There were two people working on the farms, both had been well instructed.

Not knowing where the infection might have come from was also the message when Pig Progress visited the only commercial farm in the EU that so far has been affected by ASF, in Lithuania.

Read more: Mystery about origin of ASF infection in Lithuania


African Swine Fever situation in Latvia

The Latvian Food and Venterinary Service (PVD) has declared quarantine in several more districts of the eastern Latvian municipality of Vilaka that have been affected by African swine fever (ASF), reported BNS via an announcement published in the Latvijas Vēstnesis official gazette.

The new ASF quarantine zone includes the districts of Vecumi, Medneva and Skilbeni in the municipality of Vilaka. The veterinary authority explained that the necessity to establish the new quarantine zone arose after the ASF virus was found in several wild boars in Vecumi.

Wild boars having tested positive for ASF

Since the discovery of ASF in Latvia, as many as 443 outbreaks have been reported to the OIE. In total, four outbreaks have been reported on small Latvian pig farms, of which two very recently. On June 16 ASF was found on a backyard farm with 18 pigs and on July 5 on a backyard farm with five pigs.

Allegedly, the number of wild boars in Latvia is high. There are stories of boars ploughing through arable fields and having become so numerous they do not fear walking up to the home windows.

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