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Greece reports first ASF cases in pigs this year

Meanwhile, 14 countries in and around the European Union have registered new cases in their wild boar populations.

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ChristianOstmo | Bigstock.com

The latest country in Europe to record presence of the African swine fever (ASF) virus in domestic pigs is Greece.

Affected near the end of April was a farm with 675 animals in Central Macedonia. This is according to the latest notifications to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) from the national veterinary agency. While two of the pigs died, the fate of the rest of the herd is not reported.

Located in the north of mainland Greece, the region of Central Macedonia borders Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia.

Based on information supplied to WOAH, the outbreak appears to be within 10 kilometers of the frontier with Bulgaria. It was also around 20 kilometers from two previous ASF outbreaks in wild boar in the same region.

This latest outbreak brings to eight the number of European states recording ASF outbreaks in pigs so far this year, according to the latest update of the Animal Disease Information System of the European Commission (EC; dated April 28).

Earlier in April, Poland registered its first ASF cases of the year in domestic animals. 

3 other states reports new ASF cases in swine

So far in 2023, the latest update from the EC puts the total number of confirmed outbreaks on farms and in backyard herds at 137. Its system covers European member states and their close neighbors.

Registering the most outbreaks in this category so far is Romania with 69 so far this year. Next comes Serbia — now with 47 reported outbreaks since the start of January.

Further detail on the Serbian cases is provided on a recent notification to WOAH. Between March 27 and April 12, presence of the ASF virus was detected in 28 backyard herds. Each with three to 45 pigs, a total of 384 animals were directly impacted by these outbreaks. Most of the affected premises were in the eastern district of Branicevo.

In the past few days, the veterinary authority of Ukraine has registered with WOAH an ASF outbreak in Kirovohrad. The first cases in this central oblast since August 2022 were detected at a farm with 10 pigs. 

Of these, eight died, and the rest have been destroyed to prevent further spread of the virus.

In recent days, Moldova’s animal health agency has declared the ASF situation “resolved” in two districts.

According to the declaration to WOAH, this applied to the districts of Criuleni and Soroca. Located in the east and northeast of the country, respectively, there have been a total of three outbreaks in domestic swine since March. Affected was a farm with 147 pigs, and two small backyard herds.

ASF cases in European wild boar pass 3,700

Already this year, the total number of ASF outbreaks across Europe has reached 3,713, according to EC’s information system (up to May 3). Twelve countries have registered one or more outbreaks through this system since January 1 since the EC’s previous update dated April 21.

Registering the highest number of outbreaks in this category so far this year is Poland with a total of 1,318. Following are Germany (now with 582), Italy (432), Slovakia (357), Hungary (240) and Romania (191).

Also reporting new ASF outbreaks to the EC System since the previous update were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic (Czechia), Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

Furthermore, WOAH has been notified of one further case in a wild boar in North Macedonia.

In Germany, the national veterinary agency — the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute (FLI) — reports 88 cases of ASF in wild boar in April. All these animals were found in one of three districts in each of the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony.

Since ASF was first detected in Germany in September 2020, virus-positive cases in the country’s wild boar stand at 5,296. According to the FLI on May 5, this was 12 more than its April 28 update. The total figure includes 55 cases confirmed over the previous 28 days.

Second control zone for Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, three more wild boar have tested positive for the ASF virus. According to the state veterinary service, these bring to 15 the number of confirmed cases in this population since December 2022 (up to May 4). Previously, the country had been ASF-free since 2018.

All of these cases have been found in the Liberec region, which is in the north of the country, and shares international borders with Germany and Poland.

However, while the first 14 cases were all located in the same “closed zone” near Frydlant, restrictions have been extended after confirmation of the latest animal testing positive for the ASF virus. It was found in the Ceska Lipa district, resulting in a new closed zone covering 230 square kilometers.

Following the same restrictions imposed in the Frydlant area, hunting is now banned there, and visitors must not leave marked paths. Furthermore, the search and removal of wild boar carcasses will be intensified.

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