The Minister advised: “While we have some advantages in that we are an island, there is no room for complacency here.”
He emphasised that while the disease was not a threat to human health and meat was completely safe to eat, an outbreak of the disease would have an enormous impact on the Irish pig industry. Ireland has almost 1.7 million pigs and the country’s pig meat exports were worth €666m in 2018.
He warned that Ireland was free of African swine fever, but not to be complacent. “It is vital we act together to keep this disease out of Ireland for the sake of our pigs, our pig farmers and our agri-food industry. Everyone has a role to play.”
Creed also said that only persons registered with the Department and issued with valid pig herd numbers were allowed to own or trade in pigs. “All those who keep pigs are reminded not to allow anyone to bring meat products onto their premises or to come in contact with their pigs while wearing clothes they were wearing on hunting trips or visits to pig-related businesses in affected countries. Working together, we can keep this serious disease out of Ireland. We can protect our pigs, our farmers, our businesses and our rural communities.”
Waste food risk
In terms of preventing the introduction of this disease into Ireland, the Minister advised that “the virus that causes ASF is quite virulent and can spread by accidental acts of individuals, in particular inappropriate disposal of waste food”.
The virus can survive for months in pork and pork products, including cured meats such as ham and salami.
The Minister urged Irish people and visitors to Ireland not to take the risk of bringing meat products into Ireland from affected countries, stating: “Don’t bring back your sandwich; don’t bring back your salami.”
The Minister reminded all those who kept pigs – even one or two pigs in their back garden “not to feed [them] waste food that contains meat or meat products”. “A simple ham sandwich, salami or meat product could bring this disease to our doorstep and it would be devastating.”