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Ukraine faces rising threat from poultry and pig diseases

By Vladislav Vorotnikov , 09-Jan-2017

Chicks being tested for AI
Chicks being tested for AI

Ukraine faces a rising threat from highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI), as the disease spread to two new regions in the past week, while African Swine Fever (ASF) cases continue to grow.

“According to recent information from Gospotrebsluzba’s department for the Odessa region, 1,099 head of poultry, specifically chicken and duck, out of a total flock of 10,251 head, were registered deceased at the agricultural farm Druzba,” said State Service on Food Safety and Consumer Protection (Gospotrebsluzba) on its website on 5 January.

The organisation added that laboratory tests of the dead poultry had revealed AI as the cause of death.

Another AI outbreak was also reported in the Chernigiv region on 4 January, where an earlier outbreak of AI was detected among wild swans. During measures aimed at containing the spread of the disease, Gospotrebsluzba identified chicken mortality at one of the local farms.

Expanded presence

With these two new outbreaks, AI has expanded its geographic presence significantly in Ukraine. The first AI outbreak was reported in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine in late November 2016. The Odessa region borders Moldova in the west, while the Chernigiv region borders Russia and Belarus in the north. In early January, Belarus restricted imports of poultry from Chernigiv in response to the outbreak.

Speaking at a press conference in late December, prior to the latest outbreaks, Sergei Karpenko, head of the Association of Poultry Producers of Ukraine, said Ukraine and the European Union (EU) had agreed a regionalisation roadmap, allowing the EU to remove an AI-related ban on poultry imports from most parts of Ukraine by 20 January 2017.

“We were negotiating with the European Commission on the issue," said Karpenko. “We agreed on the next steps that needed to be done in order to achieve mutual recognition of food security systems in the EU and Ukraine. I hope that, after 20 January, the European Commission will recognise our regionalisation - that is, introduce a ban on just the Kherson region.”

He also suggested that the EU ban would not cause huge losses for Ukraine’s poultry industry, as Ukraine supplies Europe with only a small amount of chicken, at just 2,000-3,000 tonnes a month. Meanwhile, the country is exporting poultry to 70 countries around the world, so could potentially redirect supplies, Karpenko explained.

ASF: new outbreaks

In addition, Gospotrebsluzba has reported two new outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Ukraine. In 2016, a total of 91 outbreaks of the disease were reported in the country, including 84 in pig farms and seven among wild boar, Gospotrebsluzba estimated. Last year the disease spread to seven new regions of Ukraine, forcing veterinary authorities to cull 26,000 pigs as a result.

In late December, Ukraine’s Livestock Association said it had developed a roadmap to tackle the disease, which result in integrated activity from scientific bodies, local authorities, businesses and all other involved parties.

However, the country’s Association of Pig Producers has complained that there are still many gaps in the state system for combating ASF as, for instance, farmers were not receiving the minimum 40% of state aid promised within the relevant state subsidy programs.

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