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ASF Poland: Number of farm cases in 2020 rises to 71

Although the summer is not over yet, in Poland African Swine Fever has already infected more farms in 2020 than it did in the whole of 2019. Currently, the count is at 71 infected farms, the majority of them being backyard farms.

That can be concluded on the basis of the most recent data of the Polish General Veterinary Inspectorate (GVI).

The lion's share of the infected farm sites is located in Eastern Poland, 65 out of 71 - often these farms had less than 100 pigs in total. By far the most infections were concentrated in Lublin province (50), bordering Belarus. Another 6 were found directly south of Lublin province, in Subcarpathia province. Warmia-Masuria (7) and Mazovia (2) complete the picture in Eastern Poland.

A Polish backyard farm is being disinfected. Photo: Iwana Markowska-Daniel
A Polish backyard farm is being disinfected. Photo: Iwana Markowska-Daniel

Farms infected in Western Poland

In the ASF cluster in the west of the country, bordering Germany, 6 farms have been found infected so far this year. 2 of these farms were larger commercial facilities – these 2 already got infected in March and April. The other 4 were backyard facilities. In all 66 farms together in Poland, so far almost 46,000 pigs had to be culled this year to limit the spread of the virus.

Spike of ASF outbreaks in summer months

African Swine Fever has been present in Poland since 2014. Over the last years, the outbreaks on farms always spiked in the summer months and subdued again when the weather got colder. In that context it is remarkable to see that although the summer is not over yet, ASF has reached more farms in 2020 than it did in 2019. Last year, 48 farms got infected. In total, since 2014, 303 farms got infected in Poland, with the spread of the infection varying from just 1 pig to almost 24,000 pigs.

Earlier this year, when infection rates on farms were still relatively low, the Polish farmers’ organisation Polpig communicated that the biosecurity situation on farms had improved. Pig producers in Poland can get a subsidy of up to € 22,350 per farm to enhance biosecurity.

Outbreaks of ASF in wild boar in Western Poland

Where outbreaks on farms concentrate in summer, the number of cases in the wild boar population follows the opposite trend. In the cluster in Western Poland, the number of monthly discovered infected wild boar had been coming down since February, but July proved to be the first month again with a slight growth – 65 found infected carcasses vs 52 in June.

Noteworthy is the location of the carcasses that were found late July and early August. They are mostly concentrated to the north west as well as the south of the zone in Lubusz province where the initial concentration of dead wild boar were found. In the whole of Poland, this year alone more than 3,000 dead wild boar were confirmed positive for the ASF virus.

In Western Poland altogether 1,898 dead, ASF-positive wild boar have been found since the first discovery of ASF in November 2019. 

The situation in Poland continues to worry Germany, on the other side of the border. In the German state Schleswig-Holstein, south of Denmark, the authorities have started training sniffer dogs to be able to specifically detect wild boar carcasses. The authorities intend to start deploying them in September.

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ASF situation in Belgium

Meanwhile, Belgium is preparing to get its status ‘free from ASF’ back; the country aims to file a request to that end with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the EU in October. In the zone where ASF-infected wild boar carcasses were frequently found late 2018 and early 2019, it has been quiet since September last year – just the odd emaciated carcass was found, an indication that the animal had passed a long time before.

According to Flemish Info Centre for Agri- & Horticulture (VILT), new relaxations for the area in southern Belgium include include the allowance for anybody to go and assemble wood in the forest and also more things will be allowed for hunters. As from September 15, they will be allowed to hunt game again, with the exception of wild boar. Rules with regard to biosecurity – e.g. with regard to cleaning and disinfection – are still being viewed as essential and will therefore continue to be in place.