African swine fever likely to spread, warns FAO

By Carina Perkins and Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

African swine fever likely to spread, warns FAO

Related tags: African swine fever, Russia, Livestock, Pork

Experts have warned that that African swine fever is now posing a “high risk” to the countries neighbouring Ukraine, which recently discovered its first-ever outbreak of the disease.

In a statement released yesterday, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that Ukraine had been quick to act since AFS was detected, imposing sanitary measures, destroying affected pigs and imposing a quarantine zone around the outbreak area.

However, the organisation said that while these measures appear to have temporarily halted the spread of the disease, it could easily spread to nearby countries such as Moldova, Kazakhstan and Latvia, which have “large pig populations raised on household or family farms and, oftentimes, weak biosecurity protocols”.

Juan Lubroth, FAO’s chief veterinary officer, said: “National and local authorities in the entire region should scale up their prevention measures and be ready to respond in case of further outbreaks. This could be the first of more outbreaks to come, according to our disease analyses.”

German ban

The warnings come as Germany announced a ban on the import of pork from Russia and Ukraine. In addition to live pigs and pork, the ban includes all foodstuffs that contain processed pork products over fears that ASF was introduced to the Ukraine through food products carried in hand luggage.

An official statement from German veterinary services said: “The Ministry of Agriculture warns our citizens entering into Germany from Russia and Ukraine, that they should completely abandon the transportation of meat, sausages, bacon and other pork products. This measure has been implemented due to the outbreaks of African swine fever in these countries.”

Lithuania, Moldova and Transdniestria – a breakaway territory on the eastern Moldovan border with Ukraine – have also announced bans on Ukrainian pork and live pigs.

The Minister of Agriculture for Moldova, Vladimir Sidorov, said: “Moldova has banned imports of Ukrainian pork. The reason for the introduction of such a measure is the information about the outbreak of ASF in the neighbouring country. The ban applies to animals and animal products that are sensitive to viruses. The ban will be valid until the complete eradication of the disease in Ukraine.

Customs union deal

However, Ukraine has managed to make a deal with the Customs Union – which includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia – that it will not impose a similar ban on Ukrainian pork.

“There exists an agreement, still verbal, that I myself will ban the export of pork from Zaporozhye region [where the only one outbreak in Ukraine was registered],”​ said the head of State Veterinary and Phitosanitary Service of Ukraine Alex Gorzheev. “We agreed that these states will not impose a ban on all products. Thus, we will give the opportunity for the other 24 regions to export their products abroad.”

ASF is caused by a highly infectious virus that does not affect humans, but can cause high mortalities in domestic pigs. The disease is considered endemic in parts of the Russian Federation and some countries in the Caucasus region, including Georgia and Armenia. In 2011, almost 300,000 pigs died or were culled as a result of ASF outbreaks in the Russian Federation, resulting in estimated losses of $240m in economic losses.

Related topics: Meat

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