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wild boars in snow JanMiko/iStock/Thinkstock

Germany confirms first ASF case in wild boar

Infected wild boar carcass near border with Poland was largely decayed.

African swine fever (ASF) virus was detected in a wild boar found dead in Brandenburg near Germany's border with Poland, according to a short message Sept. 10 from the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI) in Germany.

FLI said the Berlin-Brandenburg State Laboratory detected specific genome sequences of the ASF virus in the samples taken on site. The National Reference Laboratory for ASF at FLI on the island of Riems confirmed the finding Sept. 10. It is the first case of ASF in Germany.

Bones found in the largely decayed carcass were sampled, but it can be assumed that the entry took place a few weeks ago, FLI said.

According to FLI's assessment, the risk of the pathogen being introduced into Germany was classified as high. The physical distance to the nearest confirmed case of ASF in Poland is only 30 km, FLI noted, and the proximity to the Germany/Poland border of about 6 km makes virus entry by a migrating wild boar likely. However, introduction by people through contaminated food cannot be ruled out, FLI said.

The responsible veterinary authorities on site must now take the necessary measures.

The ASF virus has been spreading in the Asian-European region since 2007 and reached the eastern border of the European Union in 2014, FLI said.

The virus can spread through human activities such as improper disposal of contaminated food, FLI noted, explaining that this has led to entries of the virus into the Czech Republic and Belgium, both of which were successfully eliminated.

Brandenburg had erected a protective fence against ASF on the border with Poland in December 2019, FLI noted.

Germany is Europe's largest hog-producing country, according to Bloomberg, which noted that Germany's sales in the EU could be protected by "regionalization" rules to maintain trade within the bloc.

A European media outlet quoted EU farmers association COPA-COGECA as saying the reaction of German authorities has “proved the efficiency of the surveillance program in place in the region and the preparation of all players.”

In a statement, COPA-COGECA secretary-general Pekka Pesonen noted that the finding was a cause of concern for the entire European pork sector, but “nevertheless, we should be reassured.”

“Germany proved its capacity for rapid response and effective actions, while the Brandenburg region has a low pig production. The recent and positive management of ASF by Belgian and Czech authorities shows that biosecurity measures taken by farmers and public authorities are efficient in the EU,” he said.

While market observers wait to see what actions, if any, China takes, South Korea has announced a ban on pork imports from Germany.

Meanwhile, stocks of Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, WH Group and Beyond Meat all rallied on the news, each rising about 5% at midday. Nearby lean hog futures also posted strong gains, up $3.00/cwt. by midday.

TAGS: Swine
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