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African swine fever cases in Western Europe spark concern

16 September 2018

The virus quickly spread across Eastern Europe, where food safety authorities have struggled to contain the disease.

The plan also included a strengthening of measures to prevent the virus from entering pig farms and slaughterhouses.

In China, the world's largest pork producer, new cases of the disease have been detected almost every day over vast distances, prompting the government to take strict protective measures including a ban on the use of food waste as pig feed.

African swine fever causes haemorrhages in pigs and is usually fatal, with the most severe strains of the disease known to kill almost 100% of those infected. Romania is Europe's second-largest pig farm.

Denmark has planned to build fences along Germany borders to prevent entry of African swine fever.

The source of the outbreak is not yet known but control measures including zoning, added surveillance and official disposal of the animals, by-products and waste have been applied.

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The situation is taken very seriously by Belgian authorities given the potential impact for the livestock and hunting sectors.

The task force held a meeting to create guidelines that could help hunters and local municipalities better cope with the situation in case the virus makes its way into South Korea.

The European Commission said it will deploy a team of experts this weekend to coordinate with Belgian authorities over two case of African swine fever found in Belgium, and the health commissioner will meet regional ministers on Monday.

Belgium confirmed on Friday that African swine fever had reached western Europe after two boars died in the Etalle region near the French border. It is important to stress that ASF only affects pigs and wild boars, not humans, but it is a severe disease for those animals.

"The first priority now is to ensure that this virus does not spread further and I would urge all pig producers to ensure their biosecurity is tight, particularly in regards to vehicles, animals and people coming onto their units". They are thus trying to stop the spread of this infection across pig farms.

African swine fever cases in Western Europe spark concern