Ukraine sees spike in number of ASF outbreaks

29-03-2017 | | |
Dead wild boar in a field in Poland. Photo: Iwana Markowska-Daniel
Dead wild boar in a field in Poland. Photo: Iwana Markowska-Daniel

Up until now, Ukraine has already faced at least 55 outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) during 2017, including both domestic pigs and wild boars.

That was Volodimir Lapa’s message, head of the country’s State Food and Consumer Service at a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine, mid-March.

In comparison, Lapa said that in 2016 there were 91 outbreaks of ASF reported in the country. As a result, Ukrainian veterinary services culled roughly 52,000 pigs. In general, the number of outbreaks in Ukraine is growing every year with 40 outbreaks reported in 2015 and only 16 in 2014, Lapa stated.

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Room for positivity, not for optimism

He added that there is certainly some room for positivity, because this statistical information could possibly point to veterinary services working better in terms of identification of wild boars that are infected with ASF. Without this type of work, it would be hard to avoid virus contamination on-farm.

Nevertheless, obviously this statistical information could hardly be called optimistic, Lapa said. He added that since the beginning of the year, Ukraine’s veterinary services had to cull 3,000 pigs at farms. However, the figure is incomplete, as at some facilities state agencies were still destroying pigs.

Increase funding of anti-ASF campaign

Lapa called for a doubling of the 2017 state budget for anti-epizootic measures, aimed at curbing the spread of ASF across the country. Ideally, this should be at 113 million hryvnia (US$4.1 million); last year this was 56 million hryvnia (US$ 2.05 million) in 2016.

Although the volume of funding was increased, it is still below the actual needs of the veterinary services. The money should be used for purchasing ASF diagnosis tools and they should greatly help the country to deal with the virus, Lapa added.

Billions losses are predicted

The outlook for 2017 nevertheless does not leave room for too much optimism either. According to the State Food and Consumer Service, during 2017, Ukraine may experience a 3-fold rise in the number of outbreaks compared to 2016 to 250 cases in total, with every 4th outbreak reported by farm, stated regional media Unian.

Should the situation not improve, then Ukraine may lose up to 1.2 million pigs by 2020 due to ASF outbreaks. In this case the direct losses of the industry could reach 4 billion hryvnia (US$ 150 million), while indirect losses might be much higher.

Vladislav Vorotnikov Eastern Europe correspondent