Several countries in Europe are battling to gain control of the African swine fever situation in their wild boar populations.
Over the past two weeks, new outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) in domestic pigs have occurred in just two European states.
Based on official notifications from the national veterinary agencies to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), affected by additional cases were Romania and Russia.
In Romania, nine outbreaks were confirmed recently in backyard herds in the south, center and east of the country. Directly involving 145 animals, each of the herds comprised between four and 58 pigs.
The Russian outbreak was also in a non-commercial herd of 42 swine in the Volgograd region. In March, two wild boar tested positive for the ASF virus in this southern federal district region, which had reported no cases of the disease since December 2021.
In Ukraine, the ASF situation in one northern region has been “closed,” according to the latest OIE notification.
There was just one outbreak at a small farm in the Zhytomyr region in early February. There have been no further cases since that time.
General ASF situation among European pig herds
As of April 8, eight countries had officially confirmed one or more ASF outbreaks among domestic swine so far this year. This is according to the Animal Disease Information Notification System from the European Commission (EC).
By that date, the region’s outbreaks in commercial and backyard pigs had reached 142 for the year. Of this total, 87% were reported in Romania, followed by Serbia, where 11 outbreaks in swine have been recorded.
For comparison, 11 nations notified the EC of a total of 1,874 outbreaks during the whole of 2021. Worst affected last year too was Romania, which accounted for 1,676 of the total.
Europe’s wild boar outbreaks approach 3,000 for the year so far
In contrast to the situation in domestic pigs, there appears to be no clear gain in control of ASF among European wild boar populations.
So far this year, 2,972 outbreaks among wild boar have occurred in Europe, according to the EC’s notification system. This is according to its latest update on April 8.
During the whole of 2021, 12 countries registered with the EC one or more ASF outbreaks in wild boar — a total of 12,150 outbreaks.
In 2022, one or more outbreaks have now been registered through this system by 13 countries. These include North Macedonia, which confirmed its first case at the end of March.
Recording the most outbreaks has been Poland (968), followed by Germany (623), Romania (259), and Bulgaria and Slovakia (each with 230). Also registering new cases through this system over the past two weeks are Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia and Lithuania.
Recent developments in wild cases of ASF
First cases of ASF on the Italian mainland were confirmed in early January.
Since then, the number of wild boar testing positive for the ASF virus has reached 96, based on OIE notifications. So far, the disease has been confined to two northwestern provinces — Alessandria in the Piedmont (Piemonte) region, and Genova in Liguria.
Ever since the country’s first cases of ASF in September 2020, Poland has been battling to control the spread of the virus, particularly in wild boar. Already this year, the national chief veterinary office has confirmed 854 outbreaks. Covering the period from March 15 to April 4, its latest report covers 45 new outbreaks in 10 provinces, and affecting 61 wild boar.
Meanwhile, Germany’s wild boar outbreaks continue to be confined to three eastern states. In Brandenburg, Saxony and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, 3,745 wild boar have so far tested positive for the ASF virus. This is since September 2020, when the country’s first case was detected.
The total comprises 2,504 in Brandenburg (as of April 12), 1,218 in Saxony (as of April 7), and 23 in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The latter figure is based on information from the OIE and the national veterinary agency, the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute.
German state completes move of wildlife fencing
Authorities in the state of Brandenburg report that adjustments to a wildlife fence have now been completed.
Previously, fencing was constructed along much of the border in eastern Germany aimed to prevent the entry of wild boar potentially infected with ASF from neighboring regions of Poland.
While this was generally effective, it caused heavy mortality of wildlife as animals were unable to escape rising floodwaters during adverse weather this year.
In February, plans were made to move an 11-kilometer section of the fence in the Lower Oder national park in Brandenburg. This westward realignment of the barrier system allows a larger area for wildlife to escape future flooding, the state administration reports.
Combating ASF continues to be the focus of efforts, according to the administration for the affected district of Uckermark. To avoid ASF spreading in Germany effectively, the official said the fence system must be situated as far to the east as possible. Close contacts continue between affected districts on both sides of the Polish-German border.
In the U.S., the agriculture department has commissioned a campaign to raise public awareness of ASF across the country. Furthermore, a scientist has recently been recognized for his work on ASF vaccination, and one company has been granted funding to develop a vaccine against this devastating disease of the pig family.
View our continuing coverage of the global African swine fever situation.