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Balkan states meet to discuss ASF control

As the first ever cases of African swine fever are identified in Sweden, veterinary experts from the Balkan states have met to discuss ways of controlling the disease.

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In Europe, total outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) in domestic pigs have passed 2,300 so far this year, while those involving wild boar exceed 6,000. 

For the Balkans region in the southeast, the increase in ASF outbreaks in recent weeks has been particularly alarming.

In response to what is described as the “drastic spread” of the virus, Bulgaria’s food safety agency BFSA recently invited experts from other countries in the region to share experiences of the disease and its control in the national capital, Sofia. Represented at the meeting were Greece, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia.

Among the main conclusions reached by the participants was the importance of working together in order to make the best use of the region’s resources to prevent, control and ultimately eradicate ASF. For this to be achieved, transparent reporting, active surveillance and early detection of cases were identified as vital for effective disease control.

Among commercial and backyard swine, the experts concurred on the critical role of biosecurity to prevent the introduction and spread of the ASF virus.

For high-risk areas, the group agreed that preventative culling should be considered for non-commercial pigs held in premises with a low level of biosecurity. Furthermore, the participants saw a need for a long-term strategy to manage the wild boar population in the region.

Further ASF cases detected in Sweden's wild boar

Last week, officials confirmed the first ever cases of ASF in Sweden.

Found to be infected with the virus were seven wild boar in one area, according to the official notification to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). In the central-southern county of Västmanland, six of the animals were found dead, and another was culled in late August. Testing of the carcasses was carried out as part of a national surveillance program.  

So far, it has not been possible to identify the source of the infection, according to the Swedish veterinary service, SVA. No cases have been detected and reported in neighboring countries.

Public access to a control zone has been set up around the town of Fagersta, where officials are conducting a search for any further ASF cases. 

Outbreak total in Europe’s domestic pigs passes 2,300

Already this year, the total number of confirmed ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs has reached 2,322. Covering EU member states and immediate neighbors, this is according to the Animal Disease Information System of the European Commission (EC; as of September 1).

Since the previous update released on August 20, the total has risen by 233. The number of countries with confirmed outbreaks remains at 16.

For comparison, 12 European states registered a total of 537 outbreaks in this population with the EC in the whole of 2022. Of these, 329 occurred in Romania.

Registering the highest number of outbreaks in domestic pigs with the EC so far this year is Croatia, with a total of 589 outbreaks — an increase of 106 over the previous 11 days. Next comes Bosnia and Herzegovina with 570 outbreaks, Romania (557) and Serbia (508).

Next highest totals are a long way behind these Baltic states. There have been 21 outbreaks so far this year in Poland, and 19 in Moldova, according to EC data. A further four outbreaks in this population have been recorded in Kosovo, bringing its total in 2023 to date to eight. 

Further details of Europe's latest farm, backyard outbreaks  

According to the latest update from Poland’s chief veterinary office, 22 ASF outbreaks have been confirmed in the country’s domestic pigs (as of September 8). The most recent outbreak involved a backyard herd comprising 19 animals in the central-western province of Greater Poland (Wielkopolskie).

Over the past two weeks, Romania’s animal health agency has notified WOAH about the most new ASF outbreaks (55). All were in small herds.

Also officially registering many further outbreaks in backyard herds was the Republic of Serbia. Each with between one and 11 pigs, the 25 affected premises were all in South Banat, and tested positive for the virus in late June or early July. There have already been previous cases in this district, which is located in the northeast of the country.

Meanwhile, the first ASF outbreak on a commercial farm has been confirmed in North Macedonia. According to the WOAH notification, the outbreak began on August 23 at a premises with 9,151 pigs in Karbinci. This was also the first outbreak in this central-eastern municipality, which is part of the Eastern Statistical Region.

After a hiatus of more than two years, the ASF virus was detected again in the western-central Ukrainian province of Vinnytsia. At the end of last month, 25 of the 831 pigs died at a commercial farm. Source of the infection is unknown. Other recent outbreaks have affected a farm in the adjacent province of Kirovohrad, as well as two backyard herds in the Kyiv area.

In northern Italy, presence of the ASF virus has been confirmed in six more pig herds. While all were located in the Lombardy region, in the province of Pavia, full details of the affected herd sizes are not yet reported to WOAH.   

ASF hits 3 farms in one area of western Russia

The EC’s disease monitoring system does not cover Russia.

After a six-month hiatus, Russia’s animal health agency has reported to WOAH that cases of ASF have been detected again at the end of August in Krasnodar krai.

Directly impacted up to September 5 were three commercial units in different districts. Each with between 696 and 11,867 pigs, the total number of domestic animals affected so far is 13,450. While two of the premises appear to be around 30 kilometers apart, the third is more than 100 kilometers to the southwest.

Source of infection is unknown in the Republic, which is part of Russia’s North Caucasian federal district.

Outbreaks of ASF have also been detected in two backyard herds.

In the Central federal district region of Kursk, no cases of the virus were detected between mid-February and the end of August. Then, last month, all eight pigs in one herd died, and subsequently tested positive for ASF.

After a brief hiatus, ASF was identified as the cause of death of the only pig at a premises in the Samara oblast in the Volga federal district.

In the same district, four further ASF infections have been registered with WOAH in wild boar. Three animals tested positive for the virus in the Mari El Republic, and one in Nizhny Novgorod.

Over the past two weeks, the Russian veterinary authority has declared to WOAH that the ASF situation has been “resolved” in one area in the Volga federal district. No further cases have been reported in the Udmurt Republic since one wild boar tested positive for the ASF virus in mid-July. 

ASF outbreak total in European wild boar passes 6,000

So far this year, the total number of ASF outbreaks across Europe has reached 6,076, according to EC’s information system (up to September 1). This the latest total from 19 countries registering one or more outbreaks through this system since January 1.

Since the EC’s previous update dated August 20, 12 states have reported new ASF cases in this population.

Registering the highest number of outbreaks in this category so far this year is Poland with a total of 2,162. Following are Germany (now with 820), Italy (781), Latvia (519), Slovakia (498) and Hungary (349).

In addition to these six nations, also reporting new ASF outbreaks to the EC System since the previous update were Croatia, the Czech Republic (Czechia), Estonia, Kosovo, Lithuania and Romania.

For comparison, there were a total of 7,442 outbreaks of ASF in wild boar across 15 European countries covered by the EC System in the whole of 2022.

In Germany, ASF virus was first detected in September 2020. Since then, virus-positive cases in the country’s wild boar have reached 5,543, according to the national veterinary agency FLI (as of September 8). This figure includes 38 cases confirmed over the previous 28 days.

Since ASF was detected again in the Czech Republic at the end of 2022, 53 cases in wild boar have been confirmed by the state veterinary service.

All have been found in the northern region of Liberec, including 52 in one district. As a result of a recent spread in cases, the service has recently added two more municipalities to the zone covered by the tightest restrictions on pig farms and wild boar hunting.

View our continuing coverage of the global African swine fever situation.

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