Defra Update: African Swine Fever in Russia

RUSSIA - Defra’s International Disease Monitoring (IDM) monitors outbreaks of high impact diseases around the world. African Swine Fever (ASF) is among those diseases of major concern.
calendar icon 28 March 2011
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Disease Report

The Russian Authorities have informed the EU of a third outbreak of African Swine Fever in domestic swine in St Petersburg region following the outbreaks reported in January 2011 (European Commission, 2011; see map). Disease has been confirmed by laboratory tests in 8 out of 43 swine, which were found dead. Control measures have been put in place and all the pigs at the farm have been destroyed.

Situation Assessment

This report is the latest of three outbreaks from this area in the past three months. In February another “jump“ occurred when an outbreak was reported in Nizhegorod region, close to a military base, thereby mimicking the circumstances of the outbreaks in St Petersburg. This again suggests that contaminated food or products are being moved with soldiers and military vehicles returning from the Trans Caucasus region and that swill feeding is occurring in pig farms.

The region of Nizhegorod is not a high producing region and the pigs involved were backyard therefore this will not be a high impact on the pig producing sector. It does continue to raise the issue about biosecurity and swill feeding in general and how great a risk this presents to the commercial sector as well as neighbouring countries, including Europe. On the latest report in St Petersburg, this is of greater concern as it may be an indication of established disease in the region, and given the proximity to a major sea port and the EU border.

A recent qualitative risk assessment by EFSA (Wieland and others, 2011) has highlighted that the risk of disease introduction into the EU is more likely to occur in the backyard or free range pig population, and less so in the high biosecurity commercial pig population. Wild boar also represent a risk, as disease is less easy to diagnose in these animals and the population is widespread. The report highlights that improving reporting and early detection of disease, dealing with international catering waste and implementing a swill feeding ban in free range and low biosecurity pig populations will be necessary to mitigate these risks.


We currently consider the likelihood of introduction by legal trade in susceptible livestock or products would be negligible as the EU (and UK) rules prohibit imports of such trade from Russia. The risk posed by illegal imports remains difficult to estimate and emphasises the importance of appropriate disposal of international catering waste and vigilance at international borders.

The European Commission has repeated their recommendations for Member States to be vigilant at the border inspection posts and ensure vehicles returning from the region are properly disinfected before re-entering the EU territory, according to legislative requirement. We would also like to highlight the need for biosecurity measures at pig farms, prompt reporting of suspected cases and the current prohibition of swill feeding in the UK (and the EU).

We will continue to monitor the situation.


European Commission (2011) Confirmed African Swine Fever (ASF) in Russia – St Petersburg region. Fax 21/03/2011; received 21/03/2011.

Wieland, B., Dhollander, S., Salman, M. & Koenen, F. (2011) Qualitative risk assessment in a data scarce environment: a model to assess the impact of control measures on spread of African Swine Fever. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 99: 4-14.

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