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UN warns for ASF outbreak in Georgia

The United Nations have warned for the possible implications of the African Swine Fever outbreak in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

"This is a dramatic development in the international distribution of African Swine Fever, which has been almost entirely confined to sub-Saharan Africa since 1990," said Jan Slingenbergh, senior animal health officer of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


The highly contagious viral disease of pigs causes fever and results in very high pig mortality. Its effects on commercial and smallholder pig production can be catastrophic.


There is no vaccine against the disease, which can only be stamped out.


Great concern
"The incursion of ASF is of great concern for Georgia and its neighbouring countries," Slingenbergh said.


"Delayed detection of the virus has resulted in a long danger period where the disease has been unrecognized and the virus could have moved to neighbouring countries. Armenia, Azerbaidjan and the Russian Federation should be on high alert," he added.


Imported meat?
It is probable that the virus has entered Georgia through imported frozen or processed pig meat. In the past, in some countries swill feeding, in particular swill originating from aircraft and ships, has been incriminated as a major source of infection.


The European Union, the World Organisation for Animal Health and FAO will send a joint team of experts to Georgia in the next days to assess the situation and advise the government on immediate control measures.


Outbreaks
Georgia reported that outbreaks have started at the end of April in 10 regions spread across the country, the agency warned in a news release. A total of 20,000 pigs in village and commercial farms have been slaughtered.


Georgia has about half a million pigs, kept on commercial and many smallholder farms.


More on African Swine Fever can be read in the upcoming issue of Pig Progress.


Related website:
• Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
• United Nations
• World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)
• European Union


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