The German authorities have introduced a number of measures to try and prevent any further spread of African Swine Fever, after confirmation of the first case on its soil today.
There are reportedly 18 pig farms within a 15km radius of the outbreak and the authorities are seeking to minimise the risk of spread from wild boar. The German authorities are also reportedly in discussions with trading partners, including China, about possible trade implications.
German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner confirmed the case in a wild boar found near the Polish border, close to the city of Cottbus (Brandenburg) this morning.
The German farming ministry has announced a series of strict measures to try and avoid further spread and has activated of a crisis management plan.
At a press briefing this afternoon, Harald Altekrüger, district administrator of the Spree-Neisse district, said the carcase of the wild boar was ‘accidentally’ discovered in a harvested field.
A core zone of 3 km around the site has now been fenced. This area will be set up as a ‘quiet zone’ with entry and harvest prohibition in order to prevent further wild boars from migrating, German pig industry body ISN reported.
In addition, a hazard zone with a radius of 15km and a 30km buffer zone have been established. One pig farmer is reportedly located within the core zone and 17 pig farmers are located within the hazard zone.
Movement bans and sampling to test for ASF apply within the zones, alongside an ‘intensive search for fallen game’.
ISN said there had already been ‘close coordination’ with the EU, the international animal disease organization OIE and the trading partners, including discussions with China on Wednesday night.
ISN said: “So far, it is about a single wild boar find that has tested positive in this country. The main focus must now be on analysing the situation thoroughly and taking effective countermeasures quickly. Everything must be done to ensure that swine fever does not spread any further.”
Highlighting the ASF regulation and contingency plans, it stressed that a lot or work has been done to prepare for this situation in the past two to three years.
“We have the impression that we are therefore well positioned in Germany,” ISN said. “It is important that the procedure, which has been coordinated with all parties involved, is now consistently put into practice.”
Joachim Rukwied, the president of the German Farmers’ Association, said: “African swine fever is harmless to humans. Pork can still be eaten without hesitation. Still, we are very concerned. The virus is a threat to domestic pigs and wild boars.
“There is currently no vaccination against the virus. Our pig farmers have already taken extensive biosecurity measures to secure their stocks. The precautionary measures must be further strengthened.
“We call on politicians and authorities to do everything possible to contain this epidemic and push it out of Germany again. This also includes the consistent hunting of wild boar and a stable fence. We absolutely need a wild boar-free zone on the Polish border.
“Travellers are not allowed to throw away sausage sandwiches and other leftovers carelessly – because the virus can survive in them too.”
In a statement EU umbrella farming organisation Copa-Cogeca said the scenario, ‘considered probable for some time now’, was being ‘taken very seriously’, by the European and German authorities. But it stressed that on the ground, pig farmers of the region are prepared and trained to avoid their units becoming infected.
The measures put in place, mostly addressing wildlife populations, ‘prove again the importance of a strong EU wide programme on wild boar population management’, Copa-Cogeca said.
Pekka Pesonen, Copa and Cogeca secretary-general said: “The identification of infected wild boars in Germany today is of course a source of concern for the whole European pig meat sector.
“Nevertheless we should be reassured. Germany proved its capacity for rapid response and effective actions while the Brandenburg region has a low pig production. The recent and positive management by Belgian and Czech authorities of ASF shows that biosecurity measures taken by farmers and public authorities are efficient in the EU.”
Antonio Tavares, chair of the Copa-Cogeca Working Party on pig meat calls urged EU business partners to ‘respond in a proportionate manner to this announcement’.
“It is essential that they acknowledge all measures in place to contain ASF and keep their trust in the sector. We welcome Commission and Member states efforts to push for the recognition of the regionalisation principles.
“At a difficult time for the European pig meat sector, it is essential that European and national authorities take efficient and quick measures to support the sector. The Commission’s groundwork in raising awareness and promoting biosecurity measures should be highlighted.”
The EU farming body also sought to reassure the public by stressing that the virus does not affect humans and that people who might be in contact with wild boar can play an ‘active role by taking basic measures that could prevent the spread of ASF’. Hunters, will have a key role to play in prevention and containing the disease, Copa said.