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Russia continues to battle ASF virus

Oscar Rousseau

By Oscar Rousseau+

07-Oct-2016

EU veterinary experts are concerned Germany is at risk of an ASF outbreak
EU veterinary experts are concerned Germany is at risk of an ASF outbreak

African Swine Fever (ASF) poses a real threat to the meat markets of Central Europe and Asia, including China, according to Russia’s Agriculture Ministry and veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor. 

Speaking on 2 October, Russian agriculture minister Alexandr Tkachev said there was a danger that ASF could spread to China with dire consequences, because of the high density of the country’s pig population.

We have 25 million pigs in Russia, while China [has a herd of] 430 million pigs,” said Tkachev. “With this density, God forbid, if there was an infection of any virus, everything would explode, and China would have no [pig industry]. Sooner or later someone will get it to them, I’m sure, just as it has been brought to our country via Georgia, through Sochi with wild boars.

Previously, the former head of the Russian sanitary body Gennady Onishenko expressed confidence that ASF had been brought to Russia intentionally from Georgia. On 6 October Rosselkhoznadzor also banned imports of live pigs and pork from Moldova. It said that if no action was taken in the European Union (EU) to constrain the spread of the epidemic, it would also extend the ban to cover the Baltics and Poland in the first half of 2017.

Germany at risk

The first-ever outbreak of ASF was confirmed in Moldova on 6 October, following analysis of samples taken from dead pigs from two villages in the east of the country.

Speaking during his visit to Kaliningrad Oblast, Rosselkhoznadzor’s head Sergei Dankvert instructed local authorities to enhance measures aimed at stopping the disease from entering the region.

Unfortunately, at present the number of outbreaks of ASF in the Baltic countries and Poland is getting close to 3,000 units,” said the press service of Rosselkhoznadzor. “As a result, veterinary authorities in the European Union are now considering the disease threat to Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Germany.

Both the rooting of the virus in the wild boar population in Poland and the Baltic States, and the lack of effective control and traceability of animal products in the internal EU market should be taken into account. ASF will become endemic in Poland and the Baltic countries, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), turning them into potential sources of this pathogen to other countries.

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