Poland struck by first cases of African swine fever

February 18, 2014
Piglets are seen at a farm on April 6, 2009 in Dabkowice, central Poland

Poland on Tuesday said it was taking action to stop the spread of African swine fever as it confirmed its first two cases and the European Union worked to end a Russian ban on its lucrative pork exports.

A buffer zone has been set up along parts of the eastern border with Belarus, Lithuania—where the disease is present—and Ukraine, Poland's chief veterinary officer Janusz Zwiazek told reporters in Warsaw.

Officials have ordered farmers to fence in their land, lay down disinfectant mats and test and monitor shipments of live pigs out of the zone.

African swine fever is harmless to humans but lethal to pigs and has no known cure, posing a grave threat to commercial pig farms.

Moscow banned pork imports from the EU on January 29, after Lithuania confirmed the disease in two wild boars. Brussels slammed the move as "disproportionate" and is now in talks with Moscow on the matter.

Russia absorbs a quarter of the bloc's pork exports, worth around 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion) annually.

Poland is one of the EU's leading pork exporters with exports in 2013 valued at 912 million euros ($1.2 billion).

State veterinarians confirmed the disease in Poland following tests on the carcasses of wild boar found near the village of Szudzialowo, just under a kilometre (mile) from the border with Belarus.

Lithuania ordered a mass cull of wild boars, saying it would shoot 90 percent of the estimated 60,000 animals living on its territory to halt the spread of the disease.

Zwiazek said Tuesday Poland was "not planning a mass depopulation of boars in the affected areas because that would just open up territory for possibly infected animals coming over the border" from Belarus or Lithuania.

"Poland has up to 252,000 (not counting the newborns) and we routinely shoot up to that number each year to manage the population," he said, explaining that stocks of the highly fertile animals could double within a year without large-scale annual hunts.

African has spread throughout the Balkans, the Caucasus and Russia since 2007, and is endemic to areas of Africa, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The FAO warns of "vast losses" if it migrates from Russia to China, which is home to half of the world's pigs.

Explore further: UN warns over swine fever outbreak in Ukraine

Related Stories

UN warns over swine fever outbreak in Ukraine

August 21, 2012

The United Nations food agency on Tuesday warned that an outbreak of African swine fever in Ukraine could pose a risk for animal health in the region as a whole despite swift moves to limit its spread.

Recommended for you

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

November 19, 2015

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause ...

One-step test for hepatitis C virus infection developed

November 14, 2015

UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the ...

Computer model reveals deadly route of Ebola outbreak

November 10, 2015

Using a novel statistical model, a research team led by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health mapped the spread of the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, providing the most detailed picture to date ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.