As African Swine Fever (ASF) continues to spread across areas of Europe, the fear of it entering the U.S. grows. It’s gratifying, though, that some countries are implementing stepped-up control and eradication programs to deal with the devastating virus.
Wild boar (Sus scrofa) and feral pigs are susceptible to ASF and show similar clinical signs and mortality to domestic pigs, explains an article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. The virus causes 100% death loss.
Evidence of ASF infection in wild boars has been reported from the Iberian Peninsula, Sardinia and most recently in Russia. Given the recent development in the Caucasus region and the current situation in Sardinia, the report says further research is needed “to elucidate the competence of wild boar to act as infection reservoir, and needs to consider potential differences in virulence of ASFV strains.”
In the Ukraine, the State Service for Food Safety and Consumer Protection has reported 27 cases of ASF since the beginning of the year, and the disease is estimated to have caused at least $12 million in losses, primarily due to loss of export markets.
The General Veterinary Inspectorate in Poland reports that it has initiated a program to control spread of the virus in that country.
Within protection zone and surveillance zones, producers are prohibited from moving pigs from the holding, and all pig owners are obligated to immediately notify the District Veterinary Officer about all cases of dead or diseased pigs in the holding. Inspections and controls are to be performed in all holdings.
Results of epizootic investigations have provided possible sources of ASF virus introduction into herds. These include:
- Non-compliance with biosecurity rules in regard to handling of pigs kept with another species (cattle or horses); or hay or grass for feeding animals, brought from places where cases of ASF in wild boars have occurred
- Non-compliance with biosecurity rules as due to lack of fences, lack of disinfection mats, etc.
- Non-compliance with biosecurity rules during human activity in an area related to contamination with ASF virus
- Illegal movements of pigs of unknown origin
According to the General Veterinary Inspectorate in Poland, the biosecurity program for domestic pigs includes:
- Protection of a holding in which pigs are kept outdoors: double fences of at least 1.5 meters tall
- Implementation of rodent monitoring and eradication program
- Periodical disinfection protocols (from April to November each year)
- Register means of transport (for pigs), that enter the holding , and registration of people entering facilities where pigs are kept
- Protection of pig buildings from access of domestic animals
- Keeping pigs in closed facilities, except for pigs kept in open systems
- Personnel handling the pigs in a holding are not keep their own pigs and refrain from handling pigs at any other holdings
- Non-authorized people are not enter facilities where the pigs are kept
- Personnel handling the pigs are to use dedicated clothing and shoes
- A written biosecurity plan will cover documentation on biosecurity measures applied at a holding
- Secure buildings with animals and buildings/facilities for feed and bedding storage by a single farm, and a fence at least 1.5 meter tall the entire length, and permanently bound to the ground, which excludes access of wild boars to the holding (the final deadline to comply to this requirement was December 31, 2017)
- Keep pigs in the facilities separated from other cloven-hoofed animals
As of August last year, the country requests that if these voluntary requirements are not followed, there will be a “temporary stop of pig keeping OR pig production in these holdings; (most probably not earlier than till the end of 2018).”
Pig farmers can submit a request for payment of compensation for not keeping pigs incessantly till the end of the Program.
Poland also has put in place an aggressive program to reduce the number of wild boars in the country.
“The supervision of biosecurity measures has been implemented in a satisfactory manner in holdings in those areas, based on the Polish national program for biosecurity aimed at the prevention of the spread of that virus,” said the NIH report. “These facts indicate an improvement in the epidemiological situation in certain areas of that Member State…”