The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its latest annual update on the presence of African swine fever (ASF) in the European Union in which it notes a slow progression of the disease.
EFSA said during the period covered by the report — November 2018 to October 2019 — Czechia became officially ASF free, but the disease was confirmed as present in Slovakia, meaning that nine European Union member countries continue to be affected.
In 2019, the area of the EU affected by ASF expanded progressively, moving mainly in a southwestern direction, EFSA said.
According to the report, all phases of the epidemic are now represented in the EU: areas recently affected following either an isolated introduction or geographic expansion from affected areas; affected areas that are expanding; areas where ASF infection has been present for some time, including areas where ASF seems to be fading out, and non-affected areas.
The situation varies substantially among EU member states due to multiple influences, including the structure of domestic pig production (in particular, the proportion of backyard holdings), geographical conditions and the characteristics of the wild boar population, EFSA said.
Backyard (non-commercial) farms present particular challenges for an ASF eradication program, such as uncontrolled movements of pigs and people, poor biosecurity and the identification of holdings, the agency said.
For this year’s report, a case study was conducted in Romania to identify the particular factors that contribute to the spread of the disease in non-commercial holdings, EFSA noted.
The report also:
- Describes seasonal fluctuations in the detection of ASF-positive samples since the disease was first detected in the EU;
- Reviews the measures applied by affected member states for controlling the spread of ASF in wild boars;
- Assesses the effectiveness of artificial or natural boundaries in controlling the spread, with a particular focus on the combination of control measures that have been applied in Belgium, and
- Assesses measures for managing wild boar populations in different geographical areas of the EU, based on the latest science and epidemiological data.
The report, "Epidemiological Analyses of African Swine Fever in the European Union (November 2018 to October 2019)," is available on the EFSA website.