Meanwhile, veterinary authorities in the Baltic States have reported their first successes in combating the disease.
Russia’s veterinary ban will not actually affect trade with Ukraine, as deliveries of pork and live pigs were already suspended from 1 January, as part of the so-called food embargo. Russian veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor has analysed the situation in Ukraine and, once again, criticised the measures taken by local veterinary departments.
“The fact that the outbreaks have occurred in the domestic pig population is evidence of a lack of sufficient control over the movement of potentially dangerous products, potentially affected by ASF,” said a spokesperson for Rosselkhoznadzor.“It also does not prevent any spread of infection to the west of Ukraine, and then on to the Balkans, where the population of wild boars is plentiful.
“One of the reasons for the spread of the virus is down to the structure of the country’s pig farming industry, with a large number of small-scale farms involved in this type of activity,” the spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, the country’s experts suggested that problems with ASF in Ukraine were exacerbated by disruption in the operations of the country’s state veterinary service, Gosvetfitosluzhba, partly caused by economic problems in the market.
“For more than a year, Gosvetfitosluzhba was unable to check market operators,” said former head of Gosvetfitosluzhba Vitaly Baskinsky. “The quarantine militia, which had been detecting all incidences of mass burials of [possibly infected] animals and displacements of unidentified animals, was liquidated. So the situation favoured the spread of ASF.” He added that, in the past, Ukrainian vets were also not allowed to monitor the spread of ASF in the quarantine zone of Chernobyl NPP.
“The Poltava, Odessa, Mykolaiv and Cherkasy Oblasts are outside the exclusion zone of Chernobyl NPP,” he added.“So we can see that this [the direction of ASF spread] has lost a vector, a straight direction and became difficult to predict.”
Some progress in combating ASF has been identified recently in the Baltics. In particular, according to Maarja Kristian, head of the department of veterinary medicine, animal welfare and feed in Estonia’s veterinary-food service (VTA), this year the country could even see a decrease in the numbers of wild boar across the country.
“Wild boar are no longer running in the fields and in the immediate vicinity of farms, as they did in July, August and September,” she said. “Also, the level of awareness of our pig farmers is much higher today than before. They are following biosecurity rules and are helping to prevent outbreaks of ASF on their farms.”
“It [ASF] is present, distributed and circulated in the wild boar population. The question now is how pig farmers will be able to keep it away from their farms. I do not dare to say yet that, this year, we will see no outbreaks on farms. There is a risk that, in July, August and September, we will find farms where pigs are ASF-positive.”
In Latvia, at the end of last year, the country’s Food and Veterinary Service stated that, overall, more than 1,000 boars infected with ASF had been detected. As a result, it was suggested that, despite all efforts, the disease was increasing its area of coverage.
Lithuania remains the least affected country in the Baltics in terms of ASF, with only 119 cases identified compared to 670 cases in Estonia and 741 in Latvia.