African swine fever detected near French border in Germany

African swine fever (ASF) has been confirmed in domestic pigs in Germany very close to the French border.

The virus was confirmed by the Friedrich-Löffler-Institute (FLI) on a farm containing around 35 outdoor pigs in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, in the west of the country, today.

In a press conference, the state’s Agriculture Minister Peter Hauk said 16 animals had died on farm during the previous week. The remaining pigs were culled once ASF was diagnosed, and restrictions put in place around the farm.

German pig industry body ISN reported that there are two farms with a total of 316 pigs in the 3km exclusion zone and 58 farms with 704 pigs in the 10km surveillance zone. At the time of writing, the virus had not been found in wild boar, but surveillance was underway.

While this is not Germany’s first case in domestic pigs, it represents a huge leap, more than 500km, from all previous cases, primarily in wild boar, in the east of the country, close to the Polish border.

Mr Hauk said there was no information on the specific cause of the entry, but the assumption, given the distance from other cases, was that ‘human action’ was to blame.

The outbreak comes as another blow to Germany’s hopes of regaining its lost export markets.

ISN said: “Once again, the fear has been confirmed that selective spread of ASF in Germany cannot be completely prevented. It is now crucial that the causes of the entry into the Forchheim plant are meticulously determined – as Minister Hauk announced.

“It is also important that the control strategies that have already been launched and the on-site monitoring take effect in order to prevent further spread. So far, there are no known indications that wild boars in the region are also affected.

“If this is confirmed, there is legitimate hope that the ASF events in Forchheim can be brought under control again quickly. Because unlike the ASF cases in wild boar, the virus events in domestic pigs can be narrowed down and combated in a very targeted manner.

“With regard to the market, the situation does not change, because Germany is already blocked for pork exports to many third countries. However, another federal state is now affected and restriction zones have to be re-designated.

“However, the new ASF case also shows how important biosecurity measures are in pig farms – no matter how small or large the farm is.”

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.