ASF in Poland state of play
During the first three months of 2020, the dynamics of ASF epizootic development in wild boars in Poland increased significantly, as compared to 2019. At that time, as many cases of disease were confirmed in the country as during the first three quarters (9 months) of last year.
It can also be observed that the dynamics of the development of the disease are constantly increasing, as the weekly reporting of the new cases increases. It might be partially explained by more intensive sanitary shooting and testing of shot animals, as at the end of January 2020 new provisions entered into force, providing for facilitating the fight against ASF.
However, with the coronavirus restrictions introduced in Poland, there were some doubts about the possibility of sanitary shooting. Luckily they were solved with the special exemption for hunters from movement restrictions.
Additionally, the first outbreak in commercial pig farm was noted in 2020, with as much as over 23.500 pigs affected, followed by the new regionalisation measured introduced in the EU regulation.
To address the concerns of the pig breeders, Chief Veterinary Officer developed the guidelines for increased biosecurity requirements for pig farms, which, if voluntarily implemented, allow for resignation from laboratory tests on blood samples for ASF, collected from pigs 7 days before moving animals.
ASF in wild boars
The first quarter of 2020 has just ended. Over the past three months we have seen a rapid increase in the dynamics of development of African swine fever epizootic in Poland.
According to the map published by Chief Veterinary Officer, from 1 January 2020 to 31 March 2020, 1729 ASF cases were confirmed in Poland. At the end of the quarter, the following numbers have been confirmed in individual regions of the country:
- Warminsko-Mazurskie province: 609 cases
- Lubuskie province: 403 cases
- Lubelskie province: 347 cases
- Podkarpackie province: 107 cases
- Mazowieckie province: 102 cases
- Wielkopolskie province: 84 cases
- Podlaskie province: 56 cases
- Dolnoslaskie province: 11 case
ASF cases are concentrated in several clusters. The largest of them is the north-western part of the Warminsko-Mazurskie province (Elbląg, Ostróda and Olsztyn districts), part of the Lubuskie province (Zielonogórski, Nowosolski and Wschowski districts), southern Lubelskie province (Tomaszów and Biłgoraj districts) and Wolsztyn district in Wielkopolskie province. In other regions, the density of new cases is slightly lower, but the situation is still to be closely monitored.
Comparing the data for the first quarter with the same period last year, we see a significant increase. At the end of March last year, there were 754 cases of the disease in the country. 2020’s number of cases was not recorded in 2019 until the end of September.
It is worth considering the reason for such a sharp increase in the number of new cases. Certainly, the extent of the disease is partly responsible for this raise, as at the end of last year, the disease appeared in three provinces so far free of ASF: Lubuskie, Wielkopolskie and Dolnoslaskie. However, that even referring only to the "old" provinces, i.e. Warminsko-Mazurskie, Podlaskie, Mazowieckie and Lubelskie, the number of confirmed cases of the disease in these regions significantly exceeds 1100, which is over half more than in the corresponding period of last year.
On the other hand, the scale of epizootic development in Lubuskie is noticeable. From over 400 cases of the disease, over 380 occurred in the area of only 3 districts - Zielona Góra, Nowosolski and Wschowski. Over 80 cases were also confirmed in the neighboring districts of the Wielkopolskie province - Wolsztyn and Grodzisk districts.
It can also be observed that the dynamics of the development of the disease are constantly increasing. While at the beginning of the year, an average of about 70 cases of ASF were confirmed weekly, in the second half of March there were about 250 cases weekly. It might also be partially explained by more intensive sanitary shooting, as at the end of January 2020 new provisions entered into force, providing for facilitating the fight against ASF by, among others, ordering sanitary hunting of wild boars and penalizing hunters for not complying with the required number of shot animals.
Nevertheless, it should be noted the present crisis of COVID-19 infection influenced also sanitary shooting of wild boars. With the state of epidemics announced in Poland, also restrictions on movement were introduced at the end of March 2020. According to the legal regulations, within the territory of the Republic of Poland the movement of persons residing in this area was prohibited, except for certain enumerated reasons, i.e. to:
- perform professional activities or business tasks;
- to meet the necessary needs associated with current matters of everyday life (shopping, doctor’s visit, walk);
- performing voluntary and unpaid services to counteract the effects of COVID-19;
- exercise or participate in the religious activities or rites.
Unfortunately, hunting, and in particular sanitary shooting, was not qualified to either of the categories and hunters stopped their activity pending the solution. The Polish Hunting Association has asked the prime minister, the minister of the environment, the minister of agriculture and the minister of home affairs regarding hunters' activities in connection with restrictions introduced during the coronavirus epidemic. In the reply, on 1 April 2020 amendment to the legal act was issued, excluding sanitary shooting from coronavirus restrictions. It means that hunting for wild boars while eradication of ASF can continue.
ASF in pigs
It should be noted that on 23 March 2020 the first ASF outbreak in 2020 was designated on a farm where 23.746 pigs were kept, located in the Lubuskie province. The number of pigs culled in this outbreak was as high as the number of 2/3 of all pigs culled because of ASF last year.
On 26 March 2020 Commission Implementing Decision no. (EU) 2020/451 was published, changing the EU ASF regionalisation in Poland and adding the areas in Lubuskie province to Part III areas with pig movement restrictions.
In order to increase the biosecurity measures on the pig farms, the Chief Veterinary Officer, in cooperation with representatives of the pig trade associations, developed additional biosecurity rules for pig keeping farms. The guidelines describe the methods of biological protection of a pig farm. They refer to:
- health status of the farm and its surroundings in the context of ASF,
- farm infrastructure, including the division of the farm into so-called clean and dirty zone,
- management of farm, animals, feed, animal by-product, etc. on the farm,
- documentation requirements.
This document, together with the inspection protocol (check-list), contains the requirements in the field of biosecurity resulting from the existing regulations and new additional rules for voluntary implementation. In order to incentivize farmers to use the guidelines, if implemented, they allow to derogate from the obligation to perform laboratory tests of blood samples for ASF, collected from pigs 7 days before moving animals from the areas listed in Parts II and III of Commission Implementing Decision 2014/709/EU. Such a solution was long advocated by the pig industry.
Source: Polish Veterinary Service, farmer.pl, topagrar.pl