The outbreak of ASF on a farm in northern Italy has been followed by 2 more farm outbreaks in that region. Communication about sick pigs appears to have been suboptimal.
The fresh outbreaks were found on 2 farms close to one another near the village of Zinasco in Pavia province, Lombardy region, at about 16 km north west of the first farm outbreak in the region that was discovered last week – near the village of Montebello della Bataglia. The north of Italy is the heart of Italy’s swine production, and especially Lombardy region takes a pivotal position.
The 2 outbreaks in Zinasco emerged on August 24 and August 27, according to data supplied to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). The August 24 outbreak infected all 26 porcine victims on-farm, of which 23 had already died when the outbreak was brought to the attention of the veterinary authorities. The August 27 outbreak took another 31 porcine victims. So far, the report doesn’t mention the size of that total herd.
The 2 new outbreaks led to a considerable amount of uneasiness amongst regional policy makers, as it appears that in one of the cases, the farm owners waited longer than necessary before alarming veterinary authorities.
Local agricultural councillor Alessandro Beduschi was clear in his verdict. In the local media outlet Milano Today he was quoted to say: “No containment measure can be effective if, as occurred on Saturday in Zinasco, irresponsible behaviour and lack of communication prevent timely intervention, risking endangering the entire regional pig sector.”
He continued to say, “The level of attention is very high. In the area within 10 km of the farms where positive results have been found, all movements of pigs both in and out are prohibited. And throughout the rest of Lombardy the movements are linked to the favourable outcome of clinical visits and sampling of biological material.”
As a result of the recent outbreaks, the movement of pigs in Lombardy has become subject to stricter regulations as from August 29. Clinical examination, a check of the mortality trend, spleen sampling from 2 recently dead pigs, and blood sampling. In addition, in an area with a 10 km radius any movement of pigs is forbidden. Especially the testing requirements are not always met with a great deal of unanimous enthusiasm amongst Italy’s pig producers as these will lead to a lot of extra work.
The first outbreak occurred near Montebello della Bataglia on August 17. There 130 animals out of 166 were infected. In that case, the farm did not have any external contacts.