Fear of African Swine Fever triggers biosecurity step up

Fear of African Swine Fever triggers biosecurity step up

ASF is considered a major threat to Danish pig producers, largely due to its presence in locations of export and its highly contagious nature. With the industry continuously under strain to make sure extensive measures are in place to safeguard the country from the disease.

Danish prevention plan

Soren Sondergaard, vice-chairman, of SEGES Pig Research Centre, said that ASF prevention utilised a massive amount of the annual budget but was necessary as an outbreak could cost the sector billions of kroner.
New regulations have been implemented to mitigate the risk, including new regimes which call for trucks to be thoroughly cleaned and held in a restricted area for a certain amount of time between transportation.

Mr Sondergaard said: “We are spending between 15-18 million Danish krone a year on cleaning the trucks, and have hired trained staff to do so, minimising the pressure on the drivers. If trucks are transporting to regions where ASF has been recorded, the vehicle must be cleaned and then left for seven days before returning to Denmark. We are working very hard to prevent an outbreak as it would cause devastation to our industry and economy as a whole.”
In the event of an ASF spread, parts of Denmark would be closed off with immediate effect, in order to ensure the flow of production could still continue in other areas.

As the virus is a noted problem in countries with vast numbers of wild pigs, Mr Sondergaard suggested that culling regimes could be another option to consider, as well as changing the drop off points where live animals are exchanged.
He said: “In risk areas such as Poland, it would be ideal to transport animals to Russia and then arrange collection so our trucks do not have to drive on the infected land. However, this would be expensive and so more safeguarding action needs to be developed.”

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New outbreaks of avian influenza in Europe

New outbreaks of avian influenza in Europe

New outbreaks of avian influenza have been reported among wild birds and poultry across Europe since the end of October 2016. The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 virus is identified in Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

EFSA investigation

EFSA experts are supporting Member States in their data collection activities. These collections are aimed at identifying how the virus enters poultry farms and the risks posed by wild birds. This information will help EFSA to re-assess the risk of introduction of avian influenza into the EU. The risk assessment is based on new scientific knowledge. The updated scientific advice will be published in 2017.

The European Commission has called on Member States to be vigilant and to reduce the risk of further outbreaks. They will do so by taking measures such as increasing biosecurity levels in poultry holdings and backyard flocks.

EFSA has worked on this topic extensively in recent years. Its work has included a scientific opinion on migratory wild birds and their possible role in the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses.

 

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