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ASF Belgium: 1st official week without ASF in wild boar

For the first time, Belgium has reported a week without new cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) in its wild boar population. That was shown in the latest report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Ever since mid-May the total number of infected animals had been relatively low. Over the whole of June, only 8 infected wild boar were found in Belgium’s province of Luxembourg – the lowest monthly score since the virus was discovered in September 2018. The total number of infected wild boar therefore remains 824. In total, 799 were found dead in the forest, an additional 25 was shot dead.

About 2 weeks ago, there also was a moment where there was no news about ASF from Belgium. That was caused by the fact that there was no update on the situation in Belgium reported to the OIE. Due to the presence of the virus, however, Belgium has to give updates, irrespective of new cases being found or not. There was an update about last week – and that one, for the first time, was ‘empty’.

Wild boar are being hunted inside the ASF infected zone in Belgium. Photo: Shutterstock
Wild boar are being hunted inside the ASF infected zone in Belgium. Photo: Shutterstock

Shooting the remaining wild boar

Belgium recently announced it started shooting the remaining wild boar in the inner zone of the infected area. In doing so, Belgium follows EU policy to keep the virus concentrated in one zone as much as possible. As soon as the virus makes fewer victims, the remaining population in that zone will be shot dead by trained professionals, to prevent that ASF virus can find any hosts.

A similar approach proved to be successful in the Czech Republic, where the virus, just like in Belgium, was only found in the wild boar population. In total, in the Czech Republic, 230 wild boar died of ASF in Zlín province between June 2017 and April 2018. On 28 February this year, the European Commission declared the Czech Republic to be free from ASF again. In doing so, the Czechs have been the only country in recent years to have done so.

February was worst ASF month for Belgium

If things would stay like this, then February has been the worst month for Belgium with in total 217 infected animals, followed by October (139) and January (121). Most animals were found in the community Tintigny (223), followed by Meix-devant-Virton (192) and Étalle (129). The virus never entered any domestic pig farms and also never entered France, Luxembourg (the country) or Germany.