African Swine Fever virus (ASFv) has been detected on a farm in the north of Italy, where the majority of the country’s pig industry is concentrated. It is the first case of ASF in domestic pigs in the north of the country.
In a report by the World Organisation for Animal Health, it became clear that the virus was confirmed on a farm in Lombardy region, Pavia province, close to the village Montebello della Bataglia. The farm had 166 pigs on-site, of which 130 animals had been contracting the virus. All pigs, if they had not died of the virus, were culled.
The virus was first suspected on August 17. The authorities reported it was an isolated event with no contact to other farms, whilst surveillance in neighbouring areas has been increased.
In wild boar populations, the first outbreak of ASF, genotype II, was detected in Italy in early January 2022. This happened also in the north of the country. Ever since, the virus has emerged in 3 additional regions of Italy.
In this area in the north of the country, the virus has made the most casualties – late August 2023 the count was at 909 confirmed wild boar victims. The area in which infected carcasses have been found is the largest of the 4 infected zones, stretches out over 3 regions (Lombardy, Piemonte and Liguria) and measures 80 km by 55 km. Up until earlier this month, the virus had not been confirmed in domestic pigs. Fresh outbreaks continue to be found in wild boar in this area.
A second concentration of ASF outbreaks in wild boar occurred in the outskirts of Rome. There, so far 91 wild boar were found infected. Geographically this zone is a lot smaller than the area in northern Italy, it all happens in a zone that is roughly 10×5 km. One small pig farm with 9 pigs was infected here in June 2022. First infected wild boar carcasses were reported in May 2022, in recent weeks the number of infected animals has not grown strongly.
A third zone where ASF has emerged over the last 2 years in wild boar is in Campania, an area south of Naples. In this zone, measuring about 20 km east to west, so far 27 infected wild boar carcasses were found. Most of the outbreaks were in and around the Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni National Park. The first outbreaks in wild boar were confirmed in May 2023; the number of outbreaks has been stable in recent weeks.
Last but not least, a fourth zone emerged in the deep south of Italy, just east of Reggio di Calabria. In that area, 16 wild boar carcasses were tested positive. In and around this region which measures 30×30 km, in total 5 farms with domestic pigs were found positive in May and June this year. The largest of these 5 farms had 239 pigs on-site; the smallest had 12 pigs on its premises. In wild boar, the first outbreaks were found late April – the number of infected wild boar does not seem to rise much in recent weeks.
As the only country in Europe, Italy has known that other genotype of ASFv, for decades. On the island Sardinia, ASF virus, genotype I has been endemic since the 1970s, when the virus was widespread all over southern Europe. Whilst it got eradicated from Spain, Portugal and France, it remained endemic at Sardinia. For that reason, exports from the island are very well regulated and monitored.