Further ASF outbreaks in Europe’s backyard pig herds

As the number of outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) in the European wild boar population this year passes the 2022 total, six of the region’s nations confirm further outbreaks in their respective domestic pigs — all in units described as “backyards.”

Large Pig In Mud
Alexander Raths | Dreamstime.com

So far this year, a total of 4,468 outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) have occurred among Europe’s domestic pigs, with 16 nations registering one or more outbreaks.

This is according to the Animal Disease Information System from the European Commission (EC; as of December 8). It monitors notifiable animal diseases in member states of the European Union (EU) and most of its immediate neighbors. 

During the whole of 2022, a total of 537 outbreaks in 12 European states were recorded through the system. Around three in five of all the herds affected were in Romania.

Around mid-2023, the ASF virus was detected for the first time in the Balkans region in southeastern Europe. It is in this region where the majority of this year’s outbreaks have occurred in this population.

Reporting the highest number of outbreaks in domestic pigs with the EC so far this year is Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the total has reached 1,486 to December 8. This figure has not changed since the end of November. Next come Croatia (now with a total for the year to date of 1,124), Serbia (977) and Romania (733). The next highest national total is Ukraine, with 35 confirmed outbreaks for the year to date.

Four states registered further outbreaks since the EC’s previous update dated December 2, namely Romania (an increase of 10), North Macedonia (two), and one each in Croatia and Ukraine. 

ASF hits more European backyard herds

Over the past week, the only new ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs in Russia were in non-commercial herds, according to the national veterinary authority. The disease situation in Russia is not included in the EC’s System. 

Affected were 78 pigs at a premises in the Voronezh region, according to the official notification to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). This was the third premises with ASF cases in this region of the Central federal district since mid-October. The previous outbreaks were on commercial farms, bringing the total number of swine impacted by the disease there to more than 125,000.

In the adjacent federal district of Volga, pigs from a backyard of 43 animals tested positive for the ASF virus this month, based on a separate report to WOAH. The outbreak was the second to be recorded in the Penza region since the end of October.

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s veterinary agency has confirmed a further 73 ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs to WOAH over the past week. Directly impacting a total of 662 animals, these outbreaks began between mid-October and the end of November. Premises were found to be infected in all three regions of the country — Republic of Srpska, the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Brcko. The main cluster of infections so far has been in the nation’s northeast, and affected herds of up to around 40 pigs. Four of the recent outbreaks were in backyard herds of between 65 and 110 pigs.

In contrast, Romania’s battle to control the spread of ASF has been ongoing since the country’s first cases in 2019.

Over the past week, five more outbreaks in its backyards have been registered with WOAH. Affected were herds comprising between two and 45 swine in four different counties.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s animal health agency has reported the return of ASF to two regions,  after a hiatus in each case.

After an absence of almost four years, the ASF virus has been detected again in the central region of Cherkasy, according to the WOAH notification. Affected this month was a group of 26 captive wild boar, three of which died.

The Kherson region in the south of the country has been free of ASF for a few months. However, a separate report confirmed that a backyard herd of six animals tested positive for the virus in the first week of December. 

ASF cases in wild boar passes last year’s total

So far this year, 20 countries have officially registered with the EC one or more outbreaks of the disease in their wild boar populations (as of December 8). Total ASF outbreaks in this population recorded through this System has reached 7,464.

For comparison, 15 European countries covered by the EC System registered a total of 7,442 outbreaks of ASF in this population in the whole of 2022.

The latest figure is 188 higher than reported in the system report dated December 2. Eleven states have registered further outbreaks through the system, including Poland (with an increase of 51), Italy (39), Latvia (19), Bulgaria (17), Lithuania (15), Germany (13) and Slovakia (12).

In the year to date, Poland has reported the most outbreaks in this category (2,617), followed by Italy (942), Germany (885) and Latvia (690).

All of these states registered new cases since the previous EC update, as well as Estonia, Hungary, North Macedonia and Romania.

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

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