New ASF outbreaks in pig farms in eastern Poland

Seven new outbreaks of ASF in pig herds have recently been confirmed in Poland, all in backyard farms, reaching the number of 39 outbreaks this year. The most difficult situation is in south-eastern part of the country, where vast majority of fresh infections is noted. The pig breeding industry still sees the greatest risk of outbreaks in the west and calls for intensified wild boar population reduction.

kleine varkentjes met moeder in de stal

The Chief Veterinary Officer informed about the designation of 7 new outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) in pigs in the territory of the Republic of Poland. The outbreaks were confirmed in backyard farms in 2 provinces in the east of Poland, where we can observe 3 clusters: two in Lubelskie province and one in Podkarpackie province.

 

map of poland with marked last asf outbreaks in Podkarpackie region
©A.Galica

The last two weeks have been the time of significant intensification of African swine fever outbreaks in Poland. Since 20 July, 30 new infections of pig hers have been confirmed in the country. This situation results not only in the necessity to slaughter thousands of animals, but also to include a large number of herds in the blue zone (part III).

Pig industry opinion

As we read in the commentary by Aleksander Dargiewicz from pig breeders association POLPIG, the disease harms not only pig producers, but the entire industry and has a significant impact on the state budget, as the value of the pig sector along with the feed industry is estimated at around PLN 20 billion annually. Restrictions in the blue zones make production in them unprofitable. The lack of slaughterhouses purchasing pigs from the red and blue zones in Wielkopolska, which maintains 36% of the country's pig population, has drastically reduced purchase prices, and farmers have nothing to do with live animals.

According to Aleksander Dargiewicz the fight against African swine fever is extremely difficult and, above all, expensive. However, a multidirectional approach is needed to control the situation, including the reduction of wild boar numbers, search for and neutralization of carcasses, and biological protection of pig herds.

Beeld: C.Spaans

"Determination in reducing the population of wild boar, collecting carcasses and widespread biosecurity of pig herds is essential. Only decisive multidirectional action can improve the situation until a vaccine is invented. Focusing solely on protecting pig herds will not be enough to successfully fight the virus. We will not defend our pig herds, if the pressure of the virus in the environment grows ", we read in the POLPIG release.

Why do ASF outbreaks occur in the summer?

ASF outbreaks mainly occur in summer. Experts still cannot clearly indicate why this is happening.

Veterinary service and experts suspect that the ASF virus enters the pig farms in the summer, probably because it is harvest time and the intensive field work associated with it. The virus can be transported to farms with mud on the tires of tractors or agricultural machinery, and with contaminated straw.

The veterinary service recommends farmers the strict application of the principles of biosecurity, which is the best defense against the virus. Recently, it is also suggested that pig farmers do not drive agricultural machinery from fields directly to farms" - it is probably about the possibility of bringing ASF from the fields, where wild boars sometimes eat.

Additionally, this year the the pressure of the ASF virus in the environment is growing. Every week, the number of ASF cases in wild boars, i.e. animals that are the reservoir of the disease, is increasing. The number of ASF cases in 2019 was 2 477. This year, according to the data on the ASF map, at the beginning of August it reached 2 936.

Source: PL CVO, farmer.pl, agropolska.pl