France is set to strengthen its defences against African swine fever, following the discovery of the virus in neighbouring Belgium.
“The confirmation today of the presence of the virus in Belgium represents a new progression of the disease which requires an answer to the height of the considerable economic stakes for the French agri-food chains,” the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on its website.
Stéphane Travert, Minister of Agriculture and Food, has asked the authorities in the regions bordering Belgium – Ardennes, Meuse, Moselle and Meurthe and Moselle – to implement the ‘strengthened action plan specific to this disease’ , under the coordination of DGAL (General Directorate of Food) to prevent the introduction of the virus into France.
He has requested that zoning measures, restrictions of certain activities such as hunting and enhanced surveillance of livestock and wildlife. The plan also includes the strengthening of biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction of the virus into pig farms and slaughterhouse surveillance measures.
The Minister demanded that this action plan ‘be applied with the utmost rigour’.
Mr Travert reminded the public of the importance of protecting French livestock. Entry onto farms must be authorised by the farmer and in compliance with all the hygiene and biosecurity measures required.
“This health alert of maximum level, requires a collective mobilisation, particularly of breeders and hunters, to prevent the introduction or spread of this disease on our territory,” he said.
The Netherlands is also on high alert. Dutch agriculture minister Carola Schouten said: ‘This is a serious situation for Belgium. We are keeping a close eye on the situation and will check if we have sufficient preventative measures in place. But there is no increased risk in the Netherlands.”