African Swine Fever (ASF) has been detected in the Czech Republic for the first time, confirming further spread of the virus in Eastern Europe.
The virus was confirmed in two wild boar by the country’s National Veterinary Research Institute (Reference Laboratory) on Tuesday (June 27), after samples were collected from a wild boar found dead last week.
The infected animals were found in Zlin, 300 km (186 miles) south-east of the capital Prague, State Veterinary Administration (SVS) spokesman Petr Vorlicek said. According to Reuters, a 10-km sanitary perimeter has been established including a farm with around 5,000 pigs that are being inspected. If the infection is detected, all the animals will be culled.
The Czech Republic becomes the latest country to be affected after the disease had been detected in recent years in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and, for the first time in October, Moldova.
Data from the OIE, the international animal health body, shows five cases have also been confirmed in Poland alone over the past 11 days, plus cases in Russia and Lithuania.
Earlier this year, in his column for Pig World, Russian journalist Vladislav Vorotnikov highlighted the scale of the ASF problem in the region and warned it is spreading west.
He said ASF-related losses in Ukraine amounted to an estimated £30.4m in 2016, including a big chunk attributed to lost exports.
“Moldova reported its first ASF outbreak on October 6 and Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor has suggested ASF is moving west with an average speed of 100 – 150 km per year,” he wrote.
“So, this year, the virus may get close to Romania, central regions of Poland and we might even see it identified in Germany.”
Defra maintains that the risk of ASF introduction to the UK remains very low, that is ‘rare but could occur’.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “This is another concerning development in the spread of ASF in eastern Europe.
“Defra still maintains that the risk is low but we will continue to press to ensure our surveillance and defences against ASF are as robust as they can be. It is also vital that Defra fully understands the devastating impact any incursion of ASF into UK wild boar or domestic pigs will have, not just for animal health and welfare but also the crippling effect on our economy of losing our vital export trade.
“Wild boar, which have played a major part in spreading the disease in eastern Europe and this highlights once again the need to ensure we have robust control measures in place to prevent our wild boar populations spreading out of control.”