The Bulgarian Food Safety Agency said on July 30 that it had confirmed, through laboratory tests, a new outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) at an industrial pig farm in the village of Popina in the Silistra district.
The affected pig farm holds 17 000 animals. This is the fourth case of a confirmed outbreak of African Swine Fever at an industrial farm in Bulgaria and the first in the Silistra district.
Measures have been taken to control and eliminate the disease in accordance with the rules of European and Bulgarian legislation and the Emergency Control Plan for ASF, the agency said.
Enforced humane killing and disposal of all infected pigs, and pigs in contact with them, at the affected site, as well as of pigs in the risk zone that have “unclear health status and origin” would proceed.
The agency also confirmed a new outbreak of African Swine Fever in domestic pigs in the town of Byala in the Rousse district at private farms that held nine unregistered pigs.
The settlement was within the 10km monitoring zone set up on July 16 after a confirmed outbreak of ASF at a farm in the village of Pet Kladentsi in Byala municipality.
A new case of African Swine Fever was also detected in six wild pigs in Svishtov municipality, Veliko Turnovo district, the Food Safety Agency said.
The agency issued its latest reminder that ASF spreads easily and the virus is very persistent, and that disposal of carcasses should done in accordance with the law.
Bulgarian National Television reported on July 30 that in Rousse, the district most affected by African Swine Fever, demand for chicken and fish is growing.
A large hypermarket in the Bulgarian city on the Danube has terminated its pork supply contract with one of the industrial farms where there had been an outbreak of ASF.
Although the price of pork was not increasing dramatically, large food chains in Rousse were seeing an increase in chicken and fish sales.
The price of a kilogram of pork in Bulgarian in 2018 averaged 7.25 leva, according to the National Statistical Institute. It is currently, at bulk prices, about 7.79 leva, having risen from 7.60 leva a week earlier, having in turn risen from 7.41 leva a week before that.
Bulgaria’s authorities say there is no alternative to mass culling of pigs where outbreaks of ASF have been confirmed.
Current unofficial estimates are that close to 100 000 pigs either have been culled or are to be. Bulgaria is said to have about 550 000 to 600 000 pigs.
Pork accounts for about 80 per cent of the meat consumed in Bulgaria. Most of the pork is imported, against a background of rising pork prices on world markets, the result in part of large-scale outbreaks of ASF in China and much of South East Asia.
ASF is not dangerous to humans, but its rapid spread is seen as potentially devastating to pig populations.
Losses to Bulgaria’s pig farming industry could run into hundreds of millions of leva, putting jobs and livelihoods at risk.
Bulgaria’s Association of Meat Processors has said that unless the ASF outbreaks are countered, the price of pork in Bulgaria could increase by 50 per cent by the end of 2019.
(Map: Bulgarian Food Safety Agency)