European Commissioner: African Swine Fever situation in Bulgaria remains very serious

The African Swine Fever (ASF) situation in Bulgaria remains very serious and rigorous measures to deal with the infection must continue, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety  Vytenis Andriukaitis told Bulgarian National Television in an interview.

Andriukaitis, due to arrive in Sofia on September 10 as the European Commission assesses the steps that Bulgaria has taken against ASF, said that he was very worried that outbreaks had been confirmed in Serbia and there was a risk of the virus reaching other Balkan countries.

He said that in some sections of Bulgarian society, there was resistance to, misunderstanding about and distrust of the measures taken against ASF, which creates chaos on the ground.

Andriukaitis reiterated the culling is the only way to deal with the infection.

“If the infection gets into large commercial pig farms, it means that all pigs must be killed. All. It is not possible to selectively destroy them, because this is the only way to control the situation. It is very painful, it is very dramatic, it is emotional and it is very difficult to bear the sight, but this is the only possible operation. If you have gangrene on your foot, you should amputate it.”

He said that there was a risk that the infection could spread to Greece, the Republic of North Macedonia, Albania and Croatia. In Sofia, Andriukaitis will discuss the ASF situation with ministers from across the region.

Separately, Bulgaria’s Agriculture Minister Dessislava Taneva told local media on September 7 that the intensity of the spread of ASF in the country has decreased dramatically and the crisis has been overcome.

Taneva said that in the past 22 days, there had been no registered outbreaks of the disease.

She said that in the past 40 days, of five cases reported, only one was at an industrial farm, and one which had significantly fewer pigs than those where there had been outbreaks at the beginning of the crisis.

“We can conclude that the intensity has decreased dramatically…the crisis situation is under control. But this does not mean that everything comes to a halt,” Taneva said.

She said that the hardship for everyone affected by the disease is yet to come.

With the virus having been confirmed on the territory of the country, every effort must be made that pigs are reared in a way that would minimise damage, Taneva said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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