Increase in African swine fever cases in some pig facilities in eastern Europe

The number of cases of African swine fever in Europe is on the rise after large-scale outbreaks of the disease were found in eastern European pig facilities.

A report from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK stated that Poland has reported 19 outbreaks in domestic pig herds.

According to the Pig Progress report (July 2020), African swine fever is present across “one third of the Polish land area”.

Russia reportedly announced a fourfold increase in cases in July, having gone from just six confirmed cases to 25.

Romania currently has by far the largest number of cases, with 395 confirmed cases of African swine fever thus far in 2020. Russia is next on the list.

African swine fever in Ireland

Here in Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has stated that “Ireland is free of African swine fever and it is in all of our interests to keep it that way, as an outbreak of the disease would have a huge impact on the Irish pig industry here”.

The department also explained that although African swine fever “does not affect humans or other animal species and meat from affected pigs does not pose any food safety risk, the virus can survive for months or even years in pork and pork meat products, including cured meats, hams, sausages and salamis”.

According to the department, if pigs eat food waste that contains infected meat it “will cause an outbreak of the disease”.

The department outlined the following precautions to reduce the spread of African swine fever:
  • Do not bring meat products into Ireland from outside the EU;
  • Do not bring meat or meat products onto Irish pig farms;
  • Always use a secure bin to dispose of waste food, so that it cannot be accessed by farm animals, wild animals or wild birds.

The department also asserted that it is illegal to feed food waste containing meat to farm animals, as it can spread African swine fever as well as other diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease.