The first case of African Swine Fever (ASF) has been found in a wild boar in the Piedmont region in the north west of Italy.
Various Italian media reported about the case, which was found in a dead wild boar in Ovada, in the province of Alessandria. The city is located in between just 30 km north west of Genova, and 85 km south east of Turin. The infection was confirmed by National Reference Center for Swine Fever (Cerep) of the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Umbria and Marche. A first suspicion of ASF virus had been given by the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Piedmont, Liguria and Valle d‘Aosta.
The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera quoted Luigi Genesio Icardi, regional councilor for health in Piedmont region. He said: “We are acting with the utmost promptness. The immediate and coordinated implementation of control measures in wild boar is fundamental in the attempt to confine and eradicate the disease as much as possible.
“Meetings are underway with the territorially competent veterinary services, the forest management authorities and with the environmental and wildlife hunting sectors.”
Icardi continued to say, “As envisaged by the National Plan for epidemic emergencies, the establishment of the crisis units at local, regional and national level has been started for the fulfillment of the actions envisaged by the operational manual and by the specific regulations on the subject.
“In the next few hours the “infected area” and the “surveillance area” will be defined, with the relative prescriptions.”
The Corriere della Sera stated that the ASF case could have consequences for Italian pork trade, as countries that do not recognise the principle of regionalisation could impose a ban on the import of all pig products from the entire country where the ASF occurred.
In recent days, an ASF alarm had been raised by the Confagricoltura Piemonte, speaking of a “strong risk” of spread linked to “the excessive proliferation” of wild boar.
Formally Italy is not 100% free from African Swine Fever. At its island Sardinia, the genotype I of the African Swine Fever is endemic. That is the last left-over of ASF infections in southern Europe which mostly ended in the 1980s; the virus is only known in Sardinia.
Even though this is not communicated, it is logical to assume that the current outbreak is genotype II, the type that has been active over the last decade, also entering Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia, Asia and the Caribbean. It is too early to say how the virus ended up in North Western Italy. As the crow flies it is over 800 km from the nearest outbreak location in Eastern Germany. Most likely human interference have caused the spread of the virus.