Fight with ASF intensifies in Russia and Eastern Europe

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Outbreaks are expected to rise as the weather warms up
Outbreaks are expected to rise as the weather warms up

Related tags: Asf, Russia

Several outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) have been identified recently in Russia, Poland and Lithuania, which suggests that the potential impact of the disease this year remains very unclear, according to statements from the veterinary authorities in those countries.

In March, seven new outbreaks of ASF were registered across the Volgograd, Orel and Kaluga Oblasts of Russia.

"We know that ASF actively spreads in the warm season, so in April and May, the number of outbreaks in Russia is expected to rise, with the peak of the epidemic coming in the summer months as usual. Experience shows that, in recent years, control of the disease in Russia has not improved,"​ said Russian agricultural analyst Eugene Gerden.

New outbreaks of the disease were also reported in the Utena, Panevezys and Vilnius districts of Lithuania last month, and it has been reported that the Belarusian veterinary services have begun to consider introducing additional measures to prevent contaminated products and wild boar entering the country’s territory from neighbouring Baltic markets.

The situation also remains tense in Poland, where ASF has reached new areas. "A few days ago, Poland’s Chief Veterinary Officer confirmed the 43rd case of ASF among wild boars in the country​," said Alexei Kovtun, a representative of local environment protection organisation Green Front.

"This 43rd case is a fallen wild boar, which was discovered near the village of Borovka in the Hajnówka County of Podlaskie Voivodeship, around 4km from the Polish-Belarusian border. There were no reported cases of ASF in Hajnówka County earlier this year,"​ he stated.

US army joins the fight against the virus

It seems a growing number of experts and market players now view ASF as a considerable threat to the pig production industry – not only in the countries of the post-Soviet Union bloc, but also to farmers in Eastern Europe.

It has been reported that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency/United States Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (DTRA/SCC-WMD) has funded a project titled ‘Community outreach to support understanding of ASF ecology and epidemiology in Eastern Europe: Training and implementation for methods and strategies for control and prevention’.

According to official information, this one-year project will be implemented in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine through local partners and with the support of the consulting firm Safe Food Solutions (SAFOSO), as well as the UN Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The official report said: "The overall objective of the project is to develop a comprehensive and sustainable regional network of knowledge and expertise, for the control and prevention of ASF. This knowledge will be translated into country-specific awareness materials and a train-the-trainer cascade – i.e. country focal points will train regional veterinarians, who in turn will train farmers and other stakeholders within the pig and pork value chains.

"Although the exact outreach approach and contents of the training and awareness materials will be tailored to each country, regular meetings involving all target countries will ensure the coordination and overall coherence of the project at a regional level, while ensuring that lessons are learned and experiences are shared,"​ added the report.

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