"Lithuania borders on the EU, so any measures [taken to prevent the spread of ASF] concern the whole of Europe," said head of the service Jonas Milius. "The Veterinary Service has developed a program to combat this disease, which has only been reported among wild boars in Lithuania. It has forced us to declare a state of emergency in six areas of the country.
"One of the most effective measures [to combat ASF] would be the creation of fence on the border with Belarus, which would prevent the migration of wild animals carrying the disease," added Milius. "Several outbreaks of ASF were recorded last year in neighbouring Belarus."
Meanwhile, Sergei Dankvert, head of Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, said: "Lithuania’s monitoring of ASF is extremely insufficient." He claimed this was clear from preliminary reports supplied by Russian veterinarians in the EU Commission in Lithuania.
"We still have a lot of questions for our Lithuanian colleagues," added Dankvert. "In particular, why were the samples taken only from the seven dead boars, although 18 bodies were found?"
According to Dankvert the first outbreak of ASF in Lithuania may have happened as early as November 2013. "Two ASF outbreaks, which were officially announced in January, are not linked," he said. "They were 36km from each other. So the situation is difficult. We will continue to work together with our colleagues [on this]."
EU pork imports to be restored
Pork exports to Russia from EU countries, limited following the discovery of African swine fever (ASF) in Lithuania, may be partly restored in April, added Dankvert.
"I do not see the possibility of restoring pork imports within the next two months. However, firstly, they [EU veterinary services] must conduct [a] regional study," he said.
He noted that European colleagues should at least prohibit delivery from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Estonia and, in principle, the danger zone should also be extended to include the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. These countries could face a ban on exports of pork products to Russia for three years.
However, Dankvert said that, from April, Russia may restore imports of pork from Italy, Portugal, Denmark, France, Spain and many others.
"I would be willing to make advances to Italy, France and other countries, but we need to work [on this]. To make it happen, we must have an understanding that the EU is assessing the situation correctly, although they do not seem to understand it at present," he concluded.