The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) launched Aug. 31 a major campaign to raise awareness and help halt the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in southeastern Europe.
EFSA said in its announcement the campaign is aimed at countries that EFSA identified in 2019 as collectively comprising a “region of concern” because of their proximity to countries where ASF is present. These are Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.
EFSA said the campaign will complement the ongoing efforts of the European Commission and other international organizations to work towards the eradication of the disease in Europe.
ASF is a viral disease that affects domestic pigs and wild boar. The virus is harmless to humans but has caused significant economic disruption in many countries. There are currently no vaccines for ASF, so an outbreak can necessitate the slaughter of large numbers of farm-kept pigs in affected areas, EFSA said.
The campaign aims to raise awareness and understanding of ASF in the nine targeted countries, EFSA explained. It is aimed at groups of people and individuals who come into contact with domestic pigs and wild boar, such as pig farmers and hunters. EFSA will also engage with veterinary organizations, hunting associations, farmers’ groups, customs officers, border police, local governments, tourist operators and travelers.
Because an ASF outbreak can have such devastating effects, detection, prevention and reporting are essential if this disease is to be contained, EFSA said.
The agency will share factsheets, infographics, ready-to-use social media posts and other materials. Find out more about ASF on the campaign website at www.efsa.europa.eu/StopASF.
Diagnostic tests in China
Reuters reported Aug. 28 that China's Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Affairs has issued new rules meant to standardize the production and use of ASF diagnostic kits as the country continues to its efforts to control the disease.
Reuters noted that "dozens of types of diagnostic kits" are available in China but doubts have been raised about the quality and efficacy of these test kits.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, all products used by provincial authorities to issue animal health certificates or other disease monitoring purposes must obtain an approval number from the ministry, Reuters reported, adding that beginning Sept. 1, any ASF diagnostic product that has not yet been tested by the China Animal Disease Control Center, has failed a test or has not yet been registered by the center must cease production.