German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner confirmed a case of African Swine Fever (ASF) in a wild boar in Germany on Thursday (10 September), but the EU farmers association was quick to stress the country is well prepared to respond to the issue.
Klöckner also stated that Germany is ready to deal with the situation as she announced the news.
“African swine flu is not dangerous for people,” she said, adding that consuming contaminated meat is not known to be harmful to humans.
Following confirmation of the case, which was found near the Polish border in the eastern state of Brandenburg, Klöckner announced a series of strict measures to avoid any contaminations and the activation of a crisis management plan.
The measures mostly address the management of wildlife populations.
African swine fever (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. Between 2016 and June 2020, 1.3 million pigs were lost to ASF in Europe.
In a statement, EU farmers association COPA-COGECA said the German authorities’ swift reactions has “proved the efficiency of the surveillance programme in place in the region, and the preparation of all players,” adding that pig farmers of the region are “prepared and trained to avoid contamination of their barns”.
For Pekka Pesonen, secretary-general of COPA-COGECA, the identification of infected wild boars in Germany today “is, of course, a source of concern for the whole European pig meat 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 stressed.
Antonio Tavares, chair of the COPA-COGECA working party on pig meat, called on EU business partners to “respond in a proportionate manner to this announcement”.
“It is essential that they acknowledge all measures in place to contain ASF and keep their trust in the sector,” he stressed.
The news comes just as the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has begun a major campaign to raise awareness and help halt the spread of African swine fever in south-east Europe.
The campaign is aimed at countries that EFSA has previously identified as a “region of concern” because of their proximity to countries where ASF is alreadz present, which include Albania, Croatia and Greece amongst others.
The campaign is intended to complement the ongoing efforts of the European Commission and other international organisations to work towards the eradication of the disease in Europe.
Tavares commended the efforts that the Commission and member states have made so far, saying that “the Commission’s groundwork in raising awareness and promoting biosecurity measures should be highlighted.”
“At a difficult time for the European pig meat sector, it is essential that European and national authorities take efficient and quick measures to support the sector,” he stressed.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]