This year the first ASF outbreaks have been detected in Mongolia, with five outbreaks registered in the country as of 21 January. Several pig farms reportedly had signs of the disease and several hundred more pigs have died, presumably from ASF, the local veterinary services reported.
Prior to 2018, Mongolia had been considered ASF-free, although in earlier reports last year, Chinese veterinary authorities claimed the disease had penetrated the country by coming from Russia and passing through Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
Speaking about the possible effect of the ASF epidemic in Asia, Dankvert said he expected “really severe consequences”, especially for Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. He explained that these countries relied on pig farming to some extent and would find it difficult to constrain the spread of the virus.
Looking into a crystal ball
In addition, Dankvert said the spread of ASF in Europe was happening 100% in line with earlier forecasts made by Rosselkhoznadzor.
On the other hand, Rosselkhoznadzor had not expected ASF to appear in China so soon, and there had been no forecasts that the disease would be found in Mongolia.
“We believe those facts are evidence that the global spread of ASF is not under control,” Dankvert stressed.
This year, Rosselkhoznadzor said it expected new ASF outbreaks in France and Germany. In earlier forecasts, the Russian veterinary body has estimated that the disease has been moving west with an average speed of about 350km per year.
Infected pork on the table
ASF-infected pork products found both in Russia and China have given rise to additional alerts.
Rosselkhoznadzor recently discovered a batch of pig products containing ASF in Kamchatka Krai. Such cases in the country have happened regularly over the past few years, as various pig products and sausages containing the ASF genome have been detected on grocery shelves.
Sergey Yushin, chairman of the Russian National Meat Association, said he believed this problem could accelerate the spread of ASF across the world, including into North America. Yushin explained that tourists travelling from one country to another could take the virus with them simply “in a sandwich, containing the ASF genome”.
In addition, Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture said it had identified the first case of ASF-infected sausages in a courier package. This was the first time products containing ASF had been found in mail and this further increased the chances of importing the virus to other countries.