Independent Belarussian media reported that outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) are regularly being found, but somehow do not get officially registered.
Pro-human rights news site Charter’97 described events around a recent incident in Gomel region, southern Belarus, on October 28. Many pigs had died at a farm in the Stolpnya village, 82 km north west from Gomel city, which forced municipal authorities to apply quarantine measures, including roadblocks and a ban on any transport of pork and pig products from the affected territory.
No announcement of a quarantine regime
However, for unknown reasons, the measures around the quarantine regime were never officially announced. In addition, no official reasons were revealed as to why those measures might have been taken.
The news media interviewed local citizens, who referred to the studies conducted by veterinary authorities. Speaking about the vets, one of citizens said, “They said that it must be a swine fever. A man had a lot of pigs and they had started dying. The vets were called out immediately and an analysis showed that it was a fever.”
The interviewed citizen was not sure that the revealed outbreak was caused by African Swine Fever, as he only spoke about ‘swine fever’.
Similar situation 2 years ago
Charter’97 continued to report that a similar situation happened in the village 2 years ago. Municipal authorities told citizens that “if a 3rd ASF outbreak would be registered, the entire pig population in the village would be culled.”
No ASF outbreak in Stolpnya village, however, has officially been documented, neither in 2015, nor late October 2017.
Similar events in the past
It is not the 1st time something like this has happened, in August 2017, the news source Navinyreported about an ASF outbreak that likely occurred at a large pig farm located between the villages Ostrovy and Zelenye Luki, in the Gomel region.
Disinfection of a pig house against African Swine Fever virus. Photo: Iwana Markowska-Daniel
Again, local citizens claimed, that during 2 days, pigs at the farm were culled, burned and buried. When the job was done, veterinary inspectors came up to the villages and announced to the citizens that they were not allowed to breed pigs for the next 6 months.
Locals were not in doubt the reason was ASF, the news report said, but nevertheless officially this was never reported. Vladimir Dolgodilin, the region’s deputy chief veterinary doctor, told Naviny that “the media are not allowed to access all kinds of information.”
Official confirmations of Belarus ASF outbreaks
Belarus officially confirmed only 3 ASF outbreaks in 2013 and 2014. The country’s ministry of agriculture claims the country has been free from ASF since mid-2014, when the veterinary authorities had to close numerous backyard farms and cull thousands of pigs to tackle the spread of the virus.
However, in 2013 when the first outbreak was officially confirmed by Belarus authorities, even Russian officials, including those from the National Meat Union, were blaming Belarus for the lack of transparency in the fight against ASF.