Russia Struggles to Get to Grips with ASF

14 December 2011, at 2:01pm

ANALYSIS - The Russian food safety and veterinary authority, Rosselkhoznador, has stepped up it measures to counter the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the Kursk and Oryol regions, writes ThePigSite editor in chief, Chris Harris.

The authorities are concerned that the disease could run rampant in the region which is close to the borders with Ukraine and Belarus.

In a bid to get a grip on the outbreak, Rosselkhoznador has enhanced its monitoring measures and introduced steps to eliminate ASF in the Kursk and Oryol regions.

However, despite strict controls being implemented, the authorities appear to be fighting a battle to get on top of the disease.

At the end of October, the authorities put in place regulations to establish centres to slaughter and dispose of animals found to have the disease and the Kursk authorities have passed laws enabling them to seize and dispose of animals and animal products that that are infected with the disease.

By the beginning of November, the authorities had slaughtered 287 pigs and seized 325kg of meat in the city of Kursk alone. In the region around the city, a further 1,069 pigs were isolated and slaughter, with 99 more coming from the city of Kursk, 307 from Uchkoz, 576 in the Kursk district, 12 in the October district and 75 in the Shigrovsky district.

By mid-November, the authorities identified a further 406 animals on one farm in the region, another 79 on another farm and 479 individual cases. In all a total of 1,835 pigs have been isolated in the Kursk region.

To monitor the situation and enforce the controls, 29 police posts have been established in the Kursk region and eight veterinary control posts have been established in the Oryol region.

The enforcement has taken off the market 2.5 tonnes of pig meat, a goat carcass, two beef carcasses, two pig carcasses and 44 other animals. A total of 3,743 vehicles have also been inspected.

Rosselkhoznador in the region is also monitoring markets, meat shops, kiosks and clamping down on unauthorised trade in all animal species including poultry and pig meat.

A public awareness campaign has been launched through the media in newspapers and on the radio and a hotline telephone service has been set up during the quarantine period. To date, it has received nearly 340 calls.

Rosselkhoznador in the region has also established a set of guidelines and rules for pig farmers and is carrying out unannounced inspections at slaughterhouses and veterinary stations and laboratories.

To date, four veterinary stations have been inspected and breeches in the laws have been found including failures in checking carcasses at slaughter and breaches in the laws on farms. Those involved face fines of 19 million roubles.

Rosselkhoznador has also found irregularities in collecting and disposal of biological waste and failures in disinfection and fencing and manure storage.

The catalogue of discoveries of new outbreaks of the disease and the breeches in the protocol are a cause for concern, not only for the Russian authorities and Rosselkhoznador, but for the rest of the European pig farming community.

The breaches in the rules appear to be not just from a case of ignorance by individual farmers but a conscious decision by individuals – some of them within the veterinary, official and farming community – to break the rules.

Until the authorities can isolate and eliminate the criminal element, they will have little success in isolating and eliminating the disease.