Denmark moves to build a 70-kilometre fence to protect its annual exports of EU states go on a war footing against African Swine Fever
It’s called African Swine Fever.
But it’s now a major European problem, with fences going up across the EU to keep it out.
Denmark is the latest to go on a war footing against this pig disease.
The government in Copenhagen has agreed with its Danish People’s Party parliamentary ally to pass a new law, allowing construction of a 70-kilometre fence along the border with Germany, to keep out African Swine Fever (ASF).
Minister for Food and the Environment Esben Lunde Larsen summed up the threat faced by his country and other EU member states.
“I do not want to take any risk.
“We have an export industry worth 11 billion kroner [€1.5 billion] annually which could be put at risk.
“If African swine fever virus broke out in Denmark, all exports to third countries would immediately stop. “A fence will prevent potentially infected wild boar from running across the border, and help hunters to eradicate all wild boar from Denmark.” The country is estimated to have 50-100 adult wild boars. The fence is planned to be 1.5 metres tall and sunk 50 centimetres into the ground. Cattle grids or gates will be included. Denmark has also announced that night-time shooting of wild boar will be permitted. Meanwhile, a fence along Poland’s eastern border is also mooted, to stop wild boar from migrating and spreading ASF.
Polish Agriculture Minister Krzysztof Jurgiel has said construction of this fence will start in September. “African Swine Fever is a huge concern for all of us,” said EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis last week. That includes Ireland, with our Department of Agriculture warning ASF is one of the most important and serious diseases of domestic pigs. The acute form causes severe disease from which the majority of affected pigs die. There is no vaccine.
But humans are not susceptible.
ASF has never occurred here; like the UK, we can hope
An EU veterinary emergency team is ready to deploy rapidly to advise on control of ASF outbreaks.
that being surrounded by water will help to keep it at bay.
Once mostly found in subSaharan Africa, it was confirmed in Spain, Portugal and Sardinia in 1960.
It was eradicated from Portugal in 1993 and Spain in 1995, but remains endemic in Sardinia.
Limited outbreaks have occurred in Belgium (1985) and the Netherlands (1986). It was confirmed in Georgia in 2007, and subsequently spread to Armenia, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Traced back to scavenging pigs eating infected meat at a port in Georgia, ASF spread through the east, due to failure to diagnose it quickly. Eastern Europe was hit in January 2014, and ASF has been present in wild boar and sometimes in pigs in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia ever since.
The virus advanced into wild boar in the Czech Republic, and backyard pigs in Romania, last summer.
The current outbreak has resulted in the deaths of more than a million pigs. Once it infects domestic pigs or wild boar, almost all of them die within days. There are also fears the virus could reach as far east as China, a major concern for a country that contains half the world’s pigs.
Where ASF is confirmed, EU legislation requires that all infected and exposed animals are killed, carcases safely disposed of, premises disinfected, and surveillance and strict control be carried out on movements of pigs and pig products.
Irish farmers and their EU colleagues are under notice to report immediately to the Department of Agriculture, if they suspect presence of the disease.
Though there is no treatment or vaccine, ASF can be successfully eradicated if the disease is detected early and controls are rapidly introduced.
EU Commissioner for health and food safety Andriukaitis says an EU veterinary emergency team is ready to deploy rapidly to “hotspots” to advise on disease management.
He says the general situation continues to be effectively managed, with ASF contained in relatively limited areas of the EU.
The beginning of 2018 saw three outbreaks in backyards in Romania close to the border with Ukraine (attributed to illegal movement of infected pig meat), which the EU says were swiftly and effectively resolved and closed. Nevertheless, the fences are going up across Europe. The disease currently exists in Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and has recently moved closer to Denmark, according to the government in Copenhagen.
As well as a wild boar fence, Denmark plans larger fines for illegal food imports and failures to clean animal transportation vehicles properly. Germany issued a decree last month to allow hunters to shoot wild boars year-round, to stop the animals spreading ASF.
Poland has confirmed 108 outbreaks of the virus since January 2014.
African swine fever virus broke out in Denmark, all exports to third countries would immediately stop. A fence will prevent potentially infected wild boar from running across the border, and help hunters to eradicate all wild boar from Denmark