Even though the trend looks positive, the African Swine Fever (ASF) problems for Poland are not entirely over yet. In mid-April 2023, the 1st report of a backyard farm infection marked the onset of another summer season with ASF uncertainty.
The outbreak occurred on April 12, 2023, on a relatively small farm with 16 pigs on-site in the town Lubań, Lower Silesia province. This is a town in the far south-west of the country, as the crow flies 20 km from the border with Germany and 13 km from the border with the Czech Republic. All in all, it is the 16th pig farm to be found infected with the ASF virus in Lower Silesia province.
The farm marks the 479th location with domestic pigs that has been reported infected with ASF virus ever since the virus entered Poland 10 years ago. Initially outbreaks occurred only in eastern Poland, where relatively more backyard farming can be found than in western Poland. As from November 2019, the virus also emerged in western Poland, resulting in a “wave” of farm outbreaks in the west – currently at 55 locations.
In the meantime, in the east of the country the outbreaks seemed to get less frequent bit by bit, as if the virus has been dying out. The unmistakable downward trend, in combination with lower numbers of infected wild boar being found, has been a reason for optimism among Polish pig farmers in the recent months.
As can be seen in Figure 1, the year 2021 marked the peak of the outbreaks in Poland when 124 outbreaks were recorded on pig farms in Poland. The majority of outbreaks in Poland took place on smaller farms anyway. Of the 479 infected farms, only 32 had more than 1,000 pigs on-site. Conversely, 367 outbreaks occurred on farms with fewer than 100 pigs.
Also in neighbouring Germany, there is a certain sense of optimism with regard to ASF, hoping that the year 2023 will see the last eruptions of the ASF outbreaks. A set of core zones were recently removed, which were constructed to get ASF under control in the wild boar population. Nevertheless, also in Germany, the 1st infected pig farm of 2023, has already been reported – it was a smaller site with 11 pigs, in Brandenburg state, reported early March.
In the Czech Republic, just across the border, there have currently 10 wild boar been found infected with ASF virus, near the town of Liberec. The virus re-emerged in December 2022, after having been successfully eradicated from the country in wild boar. The country was declared free of ASF virus in February 2019.