Kaliningrad-based Baltic Meat Company No 3 has begun restocking its pig farms destroyed by the last year’s African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak, according to general director Igor Kusnetsov.
The company sent a group of sentinel pigs to the affected farms, where they should stay under constant monitoring for 60 days. By the end of that time, they should undergo a thorough examination to rule out the presence of the ASF.
Remarkably, the ASF outbreak registered at the farms of Baltic Meat Company No 3 was atypical. It was a rare case when ASF did not cause massive mortality among pigs. The virus’ presence was detected during a routine veterinary investigation, the company reported.
Nonetheless, the company had to cull the entire population of 44,400 pigs at the affected farms, suffering losses of 1 billion roubles (US$ 15 million), of which 160 million roubles (US$ 2.5 million) were reimbursed by regional authorities. The outbreak was one of the biggest in Russia in 2019.
The ASF virus underwent mutations and has learned how to hide, said Vladimir Smirnov, acting head of the Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselhoznadzor in the Kaliningrad region, which is an exclave between Poland and Lithuania. The pig industry will have to live with that problem, because ASF is not going to fade out. It will continue to exist in nature, Smirnov explained.
All farms in Kaliningrad region are now instructed to send samples of their products for routine inspections to Rosselhoznadzor, Smirnov added. Kaliningrad region borders to the European Union, where the ASF problem remains tough, judging from recent outbreaks in Hungary and Bulgaria, he added.
Meanwhile, Rosselhoznadzor lifted quarantine on ASF in Primorsky Krai, where the first ASF outbreaks were reported in the second second half of 2019. Primorsky Krai is located in the Far East, bordering both China and North Korea. There have not been any new outbreaks in the region since February 2020, which means the epidemic is finally under control, the regional government said. There were also no new ASF outbreaks in the neighbouring Amur region and Khabarovsk Krai.
In 2019, Rosselhoznadzor anticipated the lowest number of ASF outbreaks in the country in decade, but that forecast did not come true, because the virus emerged in the Russian Far East. The Russian veterinary watchdog registered 79 outbreaks at pig farms and 62 among wild boar in total last year.
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The number of ASF outbreaks in Russia increased in 2019, which to some extent could be associated with enhanced monitoring. In July last year, Rosselhoznadzor said that it was believed that some regions in Russia had hid ASF outbreaks in 2018 and 2019, specifically in Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai and Volgograd region.