ASF concern strikes Finland

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Eastern Europe could be hiding ASF outbreaks, claim Russian officials
Eastern Europe could be hiding ASF outbreaks, claim Russian officials

Related tags Estonia Baltic sea Livestock

Pig producers in Finland fear the spread of African swine fever (ASF) from Eastern Europe to the Scandinavian peninsula, according to a report by the European office of environmental protection agency Green Front.

Local veterinary officials explained that the situation with ASF in Estonia was complicated and the virus could reach Finland, even despite the fact that both countries do not have inland border.

"If the disease were only to affect wild boar, numbers of which are estimated at around 1,300 head in Finland, the problem would not be so acute. Once the virus gets on to pig farms, the losses could quickly rise to at least €10 million​," said Taina Aaltonen, deputy director of Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

In October, the Finnish Food Safety Agency (Evira) and regional authorities in Eastern Finland conducted training on public service co-operation to combat ASF outbreaks. At the time, a spokesperson for Evira suggested the country should not purchase meat from Estonia, Latvia Lithuania, Poland and Russia.In addition, Evira banned imports of compound feed products that had not undergone special heat treatment and suggested that all pig farms within 100km of the eastern border should only use domestic feed.

Poland accused of ‘hiding’ ASF outbreaks​ 

"The spread of ASF has led to serious financial losses for pig farms and for the whole meat processing industry, due to the huge outlay on destroying the animals, disinfection activities and the suspension of export and import operations,​" Evira stated.

Meanwhile, recent statements from Russian veterinary officials have suggested that the countries of Eastern Europe could be hiding ASF outbreaks.

"Analysis of the spread of ASF in the Baltic States and Poland suggests that Poland is probably hiding [outbreaks of] this disease, due to a reluctance [by the authorities] to admit any further spread. This will ultimately lead to catastrophic consequences​," said Sergei Dankvert, head of Russian veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor.

'No possibility' of containment 

He added: "It is now most likely that there is suppression [of information on the new ASF outbreaks], because in the wild, there is no possibility of containing the disease​.

Our Polish colleagues have shown that infected pigs have only been discovered at the [eastern] border, but we have a high level of distrust in this information,”​ said Dankvert.

"Given the number of wild boar in Poland and Eastern European countries, the disease cannot be localised, and further spread of the virus is inevitable,​" he stated, adding that the only reasonable decision in this situation was the culling of wild boar in the countries affected. 

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