Germany Steps up Measures to Keep out African Swine Fever

GERMANY - Hobby farmers and pet pig owners are being urged to play their part in keeping African swine fever out of the country and a politician has called for research to be stepped up to control the disease.
calendar icon 17 October 2014
clock icon 4 minute read

A politician from the Left has called for measures to prevent the entry of African swine fever to be stepped up and for the topic to be kept out of the political debate, reports Raiffeisen.

Rural affairs spokesperson for the Left Party, Dr Kirsten Tackmann, has called for greater attention to be given to efforts to protect against the disease.

While such measures have been initiated, particularly at the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute, Dr (FLI), very considerable, Dr Tackmann said in Berlin recently that, in her view, an effective animal disease prevention and control concept requires a more strategic approach to research, including the establishment of an epidemiological centre.

There is no prospect of a vaccine against African swine fever in the short- or medium term, according to Agrarheute. The virus have developed a number of mechanisms to get round the body's immune system, which makes it difficult to develop a vaccine in the usual way. For now, government efforts are focused on warning visitors and travellers not to dispose carelessly of food items from countries affected by the disease.

An article in Westphalia News (Westfälische Nachrichten), however, aims to inform hobby farmers, smallholders and pet pigs owners about the dangers of African swine fever and what they can do to keep their animals safe from the disease in the Coesfeld region of North Rhine-Westphalia.

All pig owners are called on to register with the local and regional veterinary services so that they can be kept informed about any changes in the situation, said Dr Corinna Steinmann Chavez of the veterinary service.

The disease has been rife since the beginning of 2014 in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, firstly in wild boar and now also in domestic pigs, according to the report. For pigs, it is a highly contagious and always fatal but it is not dangerous for humans, stressed the local authority.

The African swine fever virus is transmitted by direct contact between animals or by feeding of swill because the pathogen can remain capable of causing infection for weeks or months in infected meat products.

The following precautions must be observed, including:

  • Do not feed waste food to pigs
  • Protect your pigs from feral animals with a double fence
  • Place a sign at the entrance prohibiting entry and feeding the pigs
  • Feed supplies and bedding should be protected from wild pigs.
  • Hunters should alert the local veterinary service if they find any dead wild boar
  • Food must not be thrown away carelessly in any public place in case it is eaten by wild boar.

Dr Steinmann Chavez told Westphalia News that it is vital to keep African swine fever out of Germany as the effects on its pig farmers would be devastating, including compulsory slaughter of herds and extensive trade restrictions on livestock and meat products.

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