The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has reiterated its warnings to pig keepers to take all steps possible to keep African swine fever (ASF) out of the country, particularly farms with workers from infected areas.
The main messages include ensuring the swill feeding ban is observed and also that any workers or visitors returning from affected areas avoid contact with pigs, at least until they are confident they have no contaminated clothing, footwear or equipment.
APHA’s latest ASF update, which can be viewed here, shows the disease is continuing to spread in Eastern Europe, although no large jumps have occurred since the last report. Nevertheless, ASF has been reported in new regions in Hungary (SzabolcsSzatmár-Bereg county) and Romania (Tulcea), both on the borders with Ukraine.
The spread could be due to wild boar movements, hunters or pig farm workers, APHSA said.
“Commercially produced meat from the affected regions cannot be traded as fresh or frozen meat to other member states. However there are concerns around pork products from non-EU countries entering the EU in passenger luggage and then being discarded in areas where wild boar are present,” the agency said.
“Publicity campaigns are in place to discourage EU nationals from bringing pork products into UK. The movement of wild boar, caught up and taken to another MS for restocking hunting grounds is not allowed.”
No evidence risk decreasing
The risk of ASF introduction to the UK was raised to ‘low’ in August 2017. This was because despite the relatively low level of legal trade in live pigs or commercially produced pig products, there could be a risk involving movement of people and vehicles from affected Eastern EU countries and the evidence around the findings of contaminated non-EU origin pig products detected in the EU.
The agency added: “This risk is showing no sign of decreasing, and it is vital that visitors to the EU Member States understand the impact of bringing personal food items which are discarded for wildlife to pick up.”
It has reiterated the following advice:
- All pig keepers and the public to ensure pigs are not fed catering waste, kitchen scraps or pork products, thereby observing the swill feeding ban.
- Visitors to affected areas that have any contact with the environment around wild boar cases should be vigilant about cleaning and disinfecting any vehicles, clothing, footwear or equipment, including hunting equipment, which may be contaminated.
- Hunters visiting affected areas should not bring back ‘trophies’ as these could be contaminated.
- All pig keepers should be aware that visitors to their premises should not have had recent contact with affected regions.
- Anybody returning from the affected EU MSs should avoid contact with domestic pigs, whether commercial holdings or smallholdings, areas with feral pigs or wild boar, until they are confident they have no contaminated clothing, footwear or equipment.
- Pig keepers and veterinarians should remind themselves of the clinical signs for ASF, which may not always be immediately obvious, as this virus appears to have reduced pathogenicity according to some disease reports. Any suspect cases must be reported promptly.
A campaign to highlight the dangers of swill feeding has been launched. You can view details here