Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

African Swine Fever reaches Belgium

African Swine Fever reaches Belgium

Danish Environment and Food Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen has said in a statement earlier, "In case of an outbreak of African swine fever, the export to non-EU countries will shut down".

China reported its first case of the disease in August in the northeastern Liaoning Province, and later the outbreaks were reported in several other provinces.

The virus, highly viral for pigs but not risky for humans, has been spreading in Europe, mainly in the eastern part of the bloc where it has lead to the culling of hundred thousands of animals.

European Commissioner for Food and Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis said he has called a meeting with Belgian authorities on Monday to work on a prevention strategy.

The ministry said local authorities have initiated an emergency response to block, cull, and disinfect the affected pigs.

This plan provides on these four departments, "measures of zoning, restrictions on certain activities such as hunting and the enhanced surveillance of livestock and wildlife" as well as "the strengthening of biosecurity measures to prevent introduction of the virus in swine farms and surveillance measures in the slaughterhouse".

"This new outbreak may represent a new change in the epidemiologic situation of ASF worldwide, suggesting that the disease may have reached pandemic proportions".

Germany - the EU's largest exporter of pork - has sent experts to eastern Europe to advise on how best to stop its spread.

According to Politico, the arrival of ASF in Western Europe has always been the worst fear for many in the pork industry, in part because it could mean import bans from key non-EU markets.

African swine fever causes haemorrhages in pigs and is usually fatal, with the most severe strains of the disease known to kill almost 100% of those infected. It is not harmful to humans. There is no vaccine or treatment for it. According to the food safety agency (AFSCA Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain) and the SPW (Public Service of Wallonia), from Belgium two boars with the disease around the southern village of Étalle were detected.

"When you start to have cases at quite some distance from previously reported ones there is concern for everyone", Justin Sherrard, global strategist, animal protein, at Rabobank, said.

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