ASF Italy: Almost 35,000 pigs culled in the north

25-09-2023 | |
ASF Italy
Nursery pigs on a farm in northern Italy. Photo: Henk Riswick

The number of culled pigs due to African Swine Fever (ASF) in the northern Italian region of Lombardy has grown to almost 35,000 on 22 farms.

This number of pigs had to be culled to stop further spread of the virus. It was confirmed by the Italian veterinary authorities.

Francesco Feliziani, head of the Italian reference laboratory for swine fever, confirmed to Pig Progress that this amount also includes farms where the virus hasn’t been confirmed, but where culls have been performed for preventive reasons. The 22 farms include the 8 sites where ASF was found since mid-August 2023. The size of the farms varies from only 1 or a few pigs on-site to facilities with a maximum of 8,770 pigs on-site. The largest pig farm that got infected had a size of 7,428 pigs at its premises. The other, non-infected farms were emptied because of epidemiological correlation (i.e. farms with links to the outbreaks) or preventive culling (geographical proximity). All in all, the farms that got depopulated all fall within an area of 4 km², he said. The exact total number to date of domestic pigs culled due African Swine Fever in Northern Italy is 34,942.

The cullings took place between August 19 and September 21 of this year. It is anticipated that the situation in domestic pigs is now under control, Feliziani said. “We expect that the situation is currently under control and that the measures, although onerous and painful, have been effective and have allowed the spread of the infection to be contained.”

To news agency Reuters, a regional spokesperson for Lombardy shared a similar expectation, “Our objective is to extinguish this outbreak […] so that the problem does not become a danger for the supply chain of the entire Italian sector.” He added that it was his belief that the risk of a further spread seems to have been averted for now.

Lombardy: Largest number of pigs

Lombardy is the Italian region with the largest number of pigs. The number shows that the virus has made a considerable impact on the domestic pig herd having been present in wild boar mostly in 2022.

Genotype II of African Swine Fever virus first emerged in Italy in early 2022. Ever since the virus has spread to 4 distinct zones. Official data are currently showing:

  • A zone in the north in the regions Lombardy, Liguria and Piemonte, with in total now 924 dead wild boar and (at least) 8 farms being infected, leading to just under 12,000 pigs dying from the virus and preventive culling. This is the zone where currently the most activity is.

  • A zone just north of the capital Rome, where 91 wild boar were found infected, and 1 farm got infected with 9 pigs on-site. The situation seems under control here;

  • A zone in Campania, south of Naples, where 26 dead wild boar were found. There do not seem to be a lot of extra infections lately;

  • A zone in Calabria, in the tip of southern Italy, where 16 infected wild boar were found and 6 farms were infected with a total of 559 domestic pigs culled. Here the situation also appears calm.

Genotype I of ASF in Sardinia

Genotype I of African Swine Fever virus has been present on the Italian island Sardinia for various decades – a situation which has been known to be endemic for years. Genotype II, however, emerged in the Caucasian area in 2007, and then spread to both Europe, Asia and even the Caribbean.

Join 18,000+ subscribers

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated about all the need-to-know content in the pigsector, three times a week.
Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world