ASF Germany: Virus hops to the north; total at 38 cases

30-09-2020 | | |
A healthy wild boar roaming the fields in Western Europe. - Photo: Jan Vullings
A healthy wild boar roaming the fields in Western Europe. - Photo: Jan Vullings

African Swine Fever in Germany is not limited to 1 location. The German authorities communicated the shooting of an infected wild boar 60km to the north of the first set of outbreaks. Meanwhile, the virus has also travelled north in Western Poland.

The new German case was discovered near the hamlet Bleyen, in Märkisch-Oderland district, which is close to the border with Poland and about 60km north of the already known infection zone. That included 36 infected wild boar so far, of which 28 were found in the Oder-Spree district and 9 in the Spree-Neisse district.

Apart from the new ‘northern’ case, the German Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL) also reported another finding place inside the known core zone, bringing the total of German cases to 38.

Measures to fight ASF

The new case has sent an alarm through Germany’s pig authorities. Immediately, in a 15km radius around this newly found places, mobile fences will be placed, according to a press release by the Brandenburg state Ministry of Social Health, Integration and Consumer Protection. In addition, all hunting will be forbidden and surveillance to find other carcasses will be stepped up.

Minister Ursula Nonnemacher said, “All responsible stakeholders have been prepared very well for this serious situation and will work in close cooperation and under high pressure, to take all measures required. In our current opinion we are dealing with 2 separate outbreak zones.”

Nonnemacher also stated that there is an acute need for a permanent, stable fence, from Uckermark – further up north even – until Spree-Neisse. As a result, Brandenburg state announced to invest €6 million this year towards the construction of a permanent fence. Very recently, the German authorities gave the green light for the construction of a permanent fence at the border; for instance in the Oder-Spree district, construction is expected to start early October.

For now, the border rivers between Germany and Poland, the Oder and the Neisse, have for now been equipped with electronic temporary fences to keep out the entrance of wild boar. There is an ongoing debate, however, whether that is sufficient as there are videos circulating in which the boar appear to be running through these after a short swim through the river. 

Remarkable location of ASF in wild boar

The location of the case in Märkisch-Oderland is remarkable. There have not been any known reports of infected wild boar on the other side of the border in Poland at this latitude. To a certain degree, that was also the case at the previous set of cases as even there, the nearest known outbreaks in Poland were 30km away. At that time, the jump of 30km may have been explained by boar that travelled a vast distance or perhaps a carcass that floated in the Oder river.

The border between Poland and Germany runs from north to south and is formed by 2 rivers. In the south, this is the Neisse river, and just south of Eisenhüttenstadt, the Neisse flows into the larger Oder river, which then forms the border river until it reaches the Baltic Sea. The first group of ASF infected wild boar was found at exactly the same latitude as the confluence of both rivers.

ASF situation in Poland

The necessity for additional permanent fencing in Germany becomes even clearer when the situation in Western Poland is being viewed. The Polish General Veterinary Inspectorate on Wednesday mentioned the finding of an infecteed wild boar carcass north of Poznan, in an area where hitherto no other ASF was found. It is 73 km north of earlier finding places – and roughly 150km east of the ‘new’ German case.

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In addition, the year 2020 has now officially taken over from 2018 as the year with the most swine farms being infected. The count is now at 97 farms; the count includes mostly backyard facilities but there are various commercial swine farms included as well. In Western Poland, close to the German border so far 12 farms were found infected. Three of those farms had more than 1,000 pigs on-site.

More than 2,000 infected wild boar in western Poland

In total, only in Western Poland since the first outbreaks in November 2019 a total amount of 2,006. All in all, the area in Western Poland/Eastern Germany that includes infected wild boar now measures 151 km east to west and 129 km north to south.

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ter Beek
Vincent ter Beek Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world