France insisted Sept. 13 on protective measures following reports that African swine fever (ASF) had been detected in wild boars in Belgium near the French border, according to a Reuters report.
The disease, highly viral for pigs but not dangerous for humans, has been spreading in the European Union, mainly in the eastern part of the bloc, especially in Romania.
“The confirmation today of the presence of the virus in Belgium (in the western part of the EU) represents a new progression of the disease, which requires an adequate response given the considerable economic interests at stake for the French agri-food chain,” France's farm ministry said in a statement.
Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert asked that some activities such as hunting be restricted and called for enhanced surveillance of livestock and wildlife in four administrative departments (counties) bordering Belgium.
The plan also included a strengthening of measures to prevent the virus from entering pig farms and slaughterhouses.
According to Politico, the arrival of ASF in Western Europe has long been the worst fear for many in the pork industry, in part because it could mean import bans from key non-EU markets.
Belgium’s food safety agency, AFSCA, said it had identified two wild boars carrying the disease around the southern village of Étalle, Belgium. Belgian authorities said they were working at various levels of government to prevent the possible spread to pig farms.
Although the disease reached mainland Europe in 2007, it only breached the EU in 2014 in the Baltic States and Poland. The virus quickly spread across Eastern Europe, where food safety authorities have struggled to contain the disease.
Germany has gone to extraordinary measures to keep the disease at bay, dispatching experts to help advise eastern countries on how best to stop the disease from spreading.
Denmark announced plans to build a fence along its border with Germany to keep ASF out, despite its southern neighbor not recording any cases so far.