Although cases of ASF infected wild boar continue to be found in Belgium, the virus appears to be under control. The total count is now 125 cases. In the meantime, the European Food Safety Authority has issued its worries on the wild boar levels.
The latest figures shared by the Belgian authorities and the World Organisation for Animal Health now show a total of 125 cases found of African Swine Fever in the country’s wild boar population. In total 224 wild boar have been found infected, of which 218 were dead and 6 had to be culled. They all occurred in a specifically closed off infection zone in the deep south of Luxembourg province. This is close to the border with both the country Luxembourg and France.
Instalment of new ASF buffer zones
Belgium has completed the installation of buffer zones to be in line with the European protocol to deal with African Swine Fever, see also the map.
In the ‘Core Zone’ and the ‘Buffer Zone’ (both pink) the management policies will remain unchanged. This also applies to the ‘Reinforced Observation Zone’ (blue) in the south of the map. In these 3 zones, no longer exist any domestic pigs, which is why there is no risk for infecting the professional business. Repopulation of these swine farms is not allowed to avoid the potential spread of the virus.
In the newly created ‘Surveillance Zone’ (blue) in the north, there are 16 pig farms, of which 1 has over a 1,000 pigs. These domesticated pigs will not be culled as the situation is under control. For those pigs there is a ban on exporting to other EU countries.
In the areas around the Core Zone, wild boar are actively being hunted.
Belgian pigs and exports
In terms of exports, the ASF situation does not seem to affect pig prices. For several weeks now, for instance the German swine processor Tönnies has not calculated prices for Belgian pigs differently than any others.
A dead wild boar which died of ASF, found in the Czech Republic. Photo: Petr Satran
Growing call for reducing wild boar
In Belgium, there is a growing call for reduction of the country’s wild boar population. For a longer time, wild boar have also intruded human living spheres and the call is growing to reduce, not eliminate, the population in the country.
In doing so, the Belgian communis opinio is in line with the latest views of the European Food Safety Authority. The authority recently released an analysis on wild boar densities and its relationship to African Swine Fever. The report, which was released late November, stated that the most successful method to fight ASF is a combination of:
- Early detection;
- Intensive hunting; and
- Early removal of wild boar carcasses from fields and forests.
The EFSA also stated that contact with infected animals can be a main source of infection for domestic pigs.