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ASF Belgium: 500+ wild boar infected; inner zone extended

The total count of wild boar infected with African Swine Fever (ASF) virus has grown to 522 in southern Belgium. The inner zone of control will be expanded to the north.

So much has become clear from the latest figures released by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Tuesday, 19 February. The latest figures give an impression of the outbreaks until 14 February 2019.

In the week prior to that date, in total 65 new cases were reported to the OIE. In total, in February, the amount of reported infected wild boar thus is equal to the whole of January 2019, when 121 carcasses were found.

ASF infected carcasses in remarkable places

Various carcasses were found in remarkable places. One infected carcass, found on 14 February, was discovered 6.5 km north of previously known finding places, between the villages Les Fossés and Mellier. The finding will lead to an addition of the inner (kernel) zone – the map below shows what it most likely look will like, according to local media.

In addition, a comparable case but still within the inner kernel zone, occurred close to the village Differt, at about 3 km from the border with the country Luxembourg. This place is over 4 km away from earlier discovery sites. On top this, the virus wasn’t found so close to the border with Luxembourg before.

The virus appears to travel south as well. Between Gomery and Bleid, at about 3.5 km from the French border, a carcass was found as well, on 13 February. This means that it is the southernmost finding in Belgium so far.

Read more about African Swine Fever in our Health Tool

Loosening regulations for picking up pigs

The findings come at a moment when the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) had just loosened some of the regulations related to the collecting of pigs on farms. As from 14 February, it has been allowed again for trucks to pick up pigs from different farms for transport to a slaughterhouse – on the condition of compliance with biosecurity measures. The softening of the rules was related to an apparent control over the ASF situation in southern Belgium.

It is unclear what the effect is of the latest set of outbreaks on these regulations.

French kill 193 wild boar

In the meantime, at the French side of the border, hunters and members of the French military so far have killed 193 wild boar in the ‘white zone’ of 141 km2 (dark blue in the interactive map above). This zone was created mid-January along the border with Belgium by Didier Guillaume, French minister of agriculture. He did so, as the virus approached the border with France on the Belgian side. The rules in the white zone, which cover parts of the departments Meuse and Ardennes, are simple: all wild boar have to be culled.

What is going on with ASF around the world? Check our ASF minipage

At the same time, an electrical fence of 60 km is nearing completion in Meuse and Ardennes to close off France from Belgium. The fence will connect to earlier types of fences erected by the Belgian authorities. This week, the last 20 km of the fence will be put into place. After that, the French authorities will continue extending the fence into the neighbouring department of Meurthe-et-Moselle.

Testing the culled wild boar

The French ministry of agriculture reported that in total 4 of the shot wild boar have been sent to a lab for testing. All tested negative for ASF. According to estimates, about 100 to 250 wild boar would still be alive in the said white zone.