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Weekly Outlook: Is Any Progress Being Made on Control of Serious Pig Diseases?

02 December 2013

ANALYSIS - As with so many important questions in life, the answer is "yes" and "no". There is an international response to the spread of African Swine Fever and yet the disease is spreading at a rapid rate in Russia despite the authorities' best attempts to control it. Classical Swine Fever has recurred in South Korea after more than four years. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea in the US has led analysts to reduce the estimates for pork production there for 2014.

On the positive side, FAO says it and its partners are making progress on Global Platform for African Swine Fever (ASF) in response to the 'untold losses' from the disease affecting poor farming families each year.

A month ago, experts from Africa, China, Europe, Japan and the US gathered at FAO headquarters in Rome to discuss progress on the Global Platform in an effort to coordinate better prevention and control. The forum was sponsored in part by the United States Department of Agriculture. Members of the private sector, international organizations, research centres and national governments also contributed.

"ASF is particularly widespread in Africa but there have been outbreaks in the Caucasus and eastern Europe in recent years. It has now become a global problem," said forum coordinator and FAO Animal Health Officer, Daniel Beltran-Alcrudo.

There is currently no vaccine against this viral disease, which causes high death rates in pigs and wild boar.

The Global Platform will also address other pig diseases, and Mr Beltran-Alcrudo added: "Many of the measures that can be put in place to counter ASF are valid for other diseases and can help farmers improve biosecurity and prevent pathogens from entering farms. Rather than fighting these diseases separately, it makes sense to capitalise on their similarities and design disease control efforts to improve overall pig health."

However, there is bad news on ASF in Russia, where the disease is now reported to be spreading at a rate of 300km a year.

While for the pig producers in Siberia, the disease is only something they are hearing about, they are already preparing for the infection to enter their region.

In Omsk, one of the major pig-producing areas, fears that if the disease spreads to the region, it will have a devastating effect on pig production and the supply of meat in the area.

Veterinary authority, Rosselkhoznador, said that an outbreak there could mean the region would be "practically without meat".

In the region that is the heart of the current outbreak, Voronezh, Rosselkhoznador inspectors have been testing the markets at the instruction of the deputy prime minister, Arkardy Dvotkovich, in a bid to prevent unsafe meat from entering the market. Other cases of ASF have been reported recently in wild boar in Rostov and Smolensk.

A single outbreak of Classical Swine Fever has been reported at a farm in South Korea.

In the US, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) cases are escalating. At the last count, the total number of swine accessions and diagnostic case submissions testing positive for the virus now stands at 1,279 across 19 states.

Despite increases in sow numbers in the US and litter sizes, a leading industry analyst is now predicting the losses from PED will amount to a three per cent reduction in pigs produced from the current estimate for 2014. This will mean higher prices for those producers who are not affected.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

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