GLOBAL - Tension and anxiety is rising in Russia over the spread of African swine fever in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.
According to figures from the Russian veterinary authority, Rosselkhoznador, the number of cases in Europe has reached 482, with 85 in Lithuania, 66 in Poland, 288 in Latvia and 43 in Estonia.
Russia has reported 18 cases of African swine fever since the beginning of the year and the veterinary authority said that the disease is in decline.
In a new report, Rosselkhoznador has said that it had repeatedly issued warnings about the potential threat of the disease and had called for close international cooperation to prevent its spread, since it first occurred in Georgia in 2007.
However it said that its warnings had been “like a voice of one crying in the wilderness”.
The Russian veterinary authority said that African swine fever had now become endemic in these Eastern European states as well as in Ukraine.
It said that the situation is made worse because of the number of small-scale farms involved in pork production and this made the possibility of exports not only unattractive but also dangerous because of the potential to spread the disease.
Rosselkhoznador said that the mechanical use of the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) recommendations for zoning has the aim of protecting commercial interests rather than eliminating the disease.
It said that zoning needs to be carried out in all countries across the EU and it is essential that the world community understands that it should not be importing breeding pigs from Eastern Europe because of the dangers of spreading the disease.
“At the present stage in the development of the African swine fever and the nature of its distribution, a number of EU countries have shown a lack of preventative measures to stop the spread and eradicate it,” Rosselkhoznador said.
In an earlier report, Rosselkhoznador said that the manner and speed of the spread of the disease in Europe had seen the disease areas join up and it predicted further spread of the disease in the EU.
In particular, it said that the growth of the disease in Ukraine threatened Russia, Belarus and Poland.
To be able to understand the spread of the disease in Eastern Europe, Rosselkhoznador said that it was necessary to realise that there were 4.5 million wild boar in the region and with the high density of livestock, it makes it difficult to control and eradicate the disease.
It added that many of the farms also did not have a high level of biosecurity measures in place.
The situation has been further complicated because of the different approaches from the various veterinary services in the different EU countries
The authority said that the introduction of temporary restrictions on the import of pig meat products from the EU was “a timely and reasonable step”.
A risk analysis had shown the potential dangers for those countries importing pigs and pig meat products of importing the disease from those countries where it had taken hold.
And this had led to import restrictions on Albania, Belarus, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Korea, Moldova, Singapore, Switzerland and Taiwan.
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