African Swine Fever outbreak in Greece raises eyebrows in Brussels

A source said the Commission proceeded with the adaptation of regionalistaion measures in Greece and remains in close contact with veterinary authorities. [Shutterstock]

An outbreak of African Swine Fever, an infectious disease which is usually deadly for pigs but harmless to humans, in the north-east of Greece, has added another headache to EU policymakers in Brussels.

EURACTIV was informed that Athens notified the European Commission on 5 February about an outbreak in the region of Serres in one holding with backyard pigs.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) warned late last month that the disease is slowly moving across the EU, mainly in a south-western direction, with a total of nine affected countries so far.

These include Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Currently, there is no commercially available vaccine to combat this virus.

Spread of African swine fever confirmed in nine EU countries

The area of the European Union affected by the African swine fever (ASF) is “progressively expanding”, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said in its latest update on the disease, published on Thursday (30 January).

A source said the Commission proceeded with the adaptation of regional measures in Greece and remains in close contact with veterinary authorities.

The same source added that additional interim safeguard measures were adopted by the Commission on 7 February while a technical discussion on African Swine Fever and this new occurrence in Greece will be held on 13 February by a Commission Standing Committee in Brussels.

The Greek authorities are now trying to find out how the animal disease reached the country. It is thought that it came through neighbouring Bulgaria, where the incidence was high.

Andriukaitis raps Bulgaria for failing to act against swine fever

The inadequate reaction of Bulgaria’s authorities to a huge outbreak of swine fever puts at risk the entire pig population of the country, the EU Commissioner for health, food and safety has told the Bulgarian National Radio ‘Horizont’ programme.

The ministry of agriculture has taken measures to deal with the situation, such as a ban on the movement of pork meat and live pigs from the region.

In 2019, Greece submitted to the Commission a programme for control eradication of African Swine Fever to be implemented in 2020. Sources said the Commission evaluated and approved the programme through a Grant Decision on 29 January 2020 and the allocated amount of financial support is €203,000.

(Edited by Benjamin Fox)

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