For the first time, the African swine fever (ASF) virus has been detected in the German state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.
In recent days, Germany has registered the first African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern). Affecting domestic pigs at a farm, this outbreak brings to the three the number of the country’s registering cases of the disease in the past 14 months.
Presence of the virus was detected in samples taken from a farm, according to the federal agriculture ministry. The national reference lab — the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute — is undertaking epidemiological investigations.
Affected was a farm with approximately 4,000 fattening pigs in the Rostock district. Although Mecklenburg-West Pomerania borders Brandenburg — where ASF was first detected in wild boar in September 2020 — Rostock district does not form part of that border. So the question is, how did the pigs become infected by the virus? Also under investigation is why the infection was first detected in domestic pigs in this state. In contrast, first cases reported in the other two German states registering ASF cases were picked up in the wild population.
To protect the pig population from the entry of the ASF virus, the agriculture ministry is urging high levels of biosecurity.
Restrictions have been put in place by the Mecklenburg-West Pomerania government within the 3-kilometer protection zone and 10-kilometer surveillance zone around the affected farm in Vogelsang. Approximately 20 holdings with pigs within these zones are being inspected and sampled by official vets. The affected farm also had links to a breeding farm and two other holdings with fattening pigs in other districts of the state.
Previously, surveillance of domestic pigs and wild boar in the state had revealed no positive cases.
In July, the ASF virus was detected in domestic pigs at three locations in Brandenburg.
More than 1,700 ASF outbreaks in European swine so far this year
So far this year, 1,727 outbreaks have been confirmed among domestic pigs, according to the latest update of the Animal Disease Information Notification System from the European Commission (EC; as of November 13). During the whole of 2020, 1,240 ASF outbreaks in 10 countries were registered with the EC System.
Of the 10 European states registering cases through this system in 2021, four have reported new outbreaks so far in November this month. These include the worst-affected country, Romania (now with 1,543 outbreaks so far in 2021). Also notifying the EC of new cases of the disease during November have been Bulgaria, Slovakia and Ukraine.
So far in 2021, presence of the ASF virus has been confirmed in 119 farms and backyard herds in Poland. The most recent outbreak was at the end of October.
This week, the nation’s chief veterinary office announced new rules to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Pig owners in the two restriction zones with the highest ASF risk now need to document a biosecurity plan before moving animals to the low-risk areas. Two variations of these plans have been prepared by the authority, depending on the number of pigs kept on the premises.
Further outbreaks in Romania, western Russia, Ukraine
During the second week of November, Romania’s veterinary authority has officially registered a further 25 ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs.
According to the latest reports to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), one of these was on a commercial farm. Affected was a holding with almost 62,000 pigs in the southeastern county of Ialomita. Other outbreaks were in backyard herds of no more than 119 animals. Affected premises were located mainly in the country’s southern and central counties.
Just one additional ASF outbreak has been recorded by the Russian animal health agency. This was in a small backyard herd in the Novgorod region. In addition, further cases, mortalities and culls were reported in the same region and in Pskov. Both of these regions are located in Russia’s Northwestern federal district.
In the Volga federal district, the authorities consider the ASF situation “closed” in the region of Samara. Between April and September, seven ASF outbreaks were confirmed in this region. As well as five cases in wild boar, the virus was detected in three backyard herds and one village herd. Directly impacted were a total of around 800 pigs. The EC does not monitor the disease situation in Russia.
In the Ukrainian region of Chernivtsi, two animals tested positive for the ASF virus on November 8. According to the OIE notification, these were the first cases in this region since October 20. Testing positive were one domestic pig at a location other than a farm, and a wild boar at a hunting ground. Located in the west of Ukraine, Chernivtsi borders Romania and Moldova.
ASF cases in European wild boar pass 10,000
Through its notification system, EC has been informed of a total of 10,449 outbreaks of ASF among wild boar in 12 European states (to November 13). This figure is approaching the 2020 total of just over 11,000 outbreaks in 14 European states.
Now registering the most outbreaks in Europe in 2021 is Poland (2,543). Also reporting new cases so far this month are Hungary (2,531 outbreaks so far this year), Germany (2,117), Slovakia (1,524), Romania (924), Latvia (266), Bulgaria (228), Lithuania (178), Estonia (59) and Ukraine (3).
Across Germany, the number of wild boar that have tested positive for the ASF virus has risen to 2,720 (as of November 15). This figure includes all cases in the wild population since the first case in September 2020. The total comprises 2,078 cases in the eastern state of Brandenburg, and 632 in neighboring Saxony.
Virus-positive wild animals have been found in seven districts in Brandenburg, and two in Saxony. Both of these states are located in the east of the country.
Currently, there is neither treatment nor a vaccine to control ASF. However, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reports that a candidate vaccine developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has protected pigs against the infection in a second study.
View our continuing coverage of the global African swine fever situation.