A new risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority has found that there is a “very high risk” of African Swine Fever to spreading to nine countries in South Eastern Europe that are currently disease-free.
EFSA evaluated the possibility of African Swine Fever spreading to Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.
“The agency concludes that the chances of the disease spreading among these countries within one year of introduction are very high (66-100 per cent).
“However, the chances of the disease spreading west into other EU member states within the same time frame are rated as very low (0-15 per cent),” the agency said.
African Swine Fever (ASF) Genotype II was present in nine EU countries at the time of the assessment: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
Improved surveillance, communication and collaboration are key to controlling the spread of African swine fever in Europe, according to the risk assessment, which was requested by the European Commission to support efforts to control and prevent the spread of the disease in the region.
Control measures – which have been in place in the EU since 2014 – should continue to focus on the importance of early detection and preparedness, the agency said.
In particular, it recommends:
Rigorous surveillance, especially surveillance of wild boar and domestic pigs, which remains the most effective means for early detection of African swine fever.
Measures to limit access of wild boar to food and further reduce boar numbers through hunting.
Awareness campaigns for travellers, hunters, farmers etc. to limit the risk of spread via movement of people, as well as to assist with early detection.
Communication and collaboration among national authorities and stakeholders to support awareness campaigns.
Training activities for veterinary officers, other relevant bodies and hunters to increase the probability of early detection and effective control.