A suspected case of African swine fever (ASF) has been detected in a wild boar carcass in Brandenburg, Germany. The infected wild boar was found in close proximity to pig stocks in Oder-Spree. The finding was also confirmed by the Federal Minister of Agriculture.
Germany had feared a spread of the disease after cases were confirmed in wild boars in west Poland and finally ASF has arrived in the European country.
“Unfortunately, the suspicion has been confirmed”, said Julia Klöckner (CDU), “African swine fever is not dangerous for humans. No danger to humans emanates from the consumption of possibly contaminated meat, she said. For pigs, the disease is almost always fatal.
After the confirmation of the first case of ASF in Germany, the district Oder-Spree is preparing a behavioral order for the affected region. This was explained by the responsible alderman Gundula Teltewskaja after the meeting.
Afterwards, a general hunting ban will be issued in a core zone around the location of the infected pig, which was found dead as a fallen game. A fence will now be erected in a four-kilometer radius around the site of the discovery, probably on Friday 11th, to prevent the spread of the animal disease. This circumference extends clearly into the Oder-Spree district.
The hunting ban is intended to allow the hunt game in the area to rest and prevent animal migration. In an extended danger zone with a radius of 15 kilometers, wild boars, on the other hand, are increasingly hunted. No more pigs or pork products may be exported from the area.
The most important task now is no longer the construction of a solid protective fence to Poland, but the demarcation of the site and the securing of the pig stocks.
The district had already purchased the necessary fence material months ago. The neighboring district Dahme-Spreewald is also preparing for an ASF outbreak. A few days ago, several cold storage rooms were put into operation there, among others in Lieberose, where hunted animals can be stored.
Teltewskaja assumes in a first estimation that in the four-kilometer-periphery no domestic pig existence is present. Klöckner also confirmed that an “endangered district” must be defined and a buffer zone must be established. Domestic pigs and pork may then – with exceptions – not be brought out of these areas.
The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture had sent a sample of the wild boar carcass to the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute. There it was examined virologically. The Institute, which is the national reference laboratory for the investigation of suspected cases, provided the final proof. With this, Germany loses its status as “disease-free”. Now export stops for pork to non-EU countries, for example to Asia, may be threatened. Farmers are therefore very concerned about the economic consequences.
So far there has not been a proven case of ASF in Germany. In Poland, the alderman continued, eight pig herds with a total of 40,000 animals have already had to be killed. On 16,000 square kilometers in the neighboring country fallow deer is looked for.
ASF is not dangerous for humans, infected pigs almost always die.
Brandenburg had erected a 120-kilometer long mobile electric fence in the Oder-Spree and Spree-Neisse districts and in the city of Frankfurt (Oder) on the border with Poland. It is designed to stop wild boars. A permanent protective fence is planned in the Spree-Neisse district. A fence has also been built at the Saxon border.
Furthermore, hunters are called upon to decimate the wild boar population. In Oder-Spree, therefore, traps are also used for hunting in areas that are difficult to access.
The illegal disposal of food waste containing the pathogen is suspected to be the cause of its spread in Europe.
After the case became known, the state farmers’ association now demands clarity from the authorities and “low-friction” communication. “The affected animal owners are under a lot of pressure,” LBV President Henrik Wendorff explained on Thursday. He was not surprised by the news of the first ASP case. It had been expected, therefore the association and also the pig farmers in Brandenburg were prepared. “Now it is a matter of preventing the worst and keeping the domestic pigs in our stables healthy”, said Wendorff.
Currently the veterinary authorities have established a core zone, a vulnerable zone and a buffer zone around the site. Within these protection zones, extensive measures are taken to prevent the spread of ASF and to protect domestic pigs. According to the association, all pig farmers are sensitized to follow the instructions of the authorities. In addition, they would have a strong self-interest in strictly observing the safety on the farms and checking them daily.
The Berlin Senate Department for Consumer Protection is also pursuing the first ASF case in Brandenburg. It calls on the Berliners to be careful with pork. In order to avoid the introduction of the pathogen into Berlin’s wild boar and domestic pig populations, food leftovers should not be left in the wild under any circumstances, but disposed of in closed waste containers.
Furthermore, Berliners should not feed wild pigs and should not bring animal products from countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland or the Czech Republic, where ASF is widespread. Meat products that are not fully cooked, such as raw ham or salami, are one of the main sources of infection.
But also vehicles, persons and dogs could spread the virus unrecognized if it was attached to them, according to the Senate Administration. Dog owners are requested to avoid walks in the affected areas in Brandenburg and to ensure that their dog does not rush game.
Anyone discovering a dead wild boar should inform the responsible forestry office or the district veterinary office. African swine fever is a highly contagious and for pigs mostly fatal viral disease, warned the senate administration. However, the virus is not a threat to humans.
At present, according to the information, samples of wild pigs found dead are regularly taken in Berlin and examined for the virus.
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