The situation of African swine fever (ASF) in the country as well as in the entire region remains grave. In 2017, the number of cases of the disease in Lithuanian farm holdings was twice as big, whereas the number of cases in the wildlife was four times as big as it was in 2016.
According to data of the State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS), last year, ASF was identified in the areas of 32 district municipalities in Lithuania. Outbreaks of the disease were recorded in 30 pig-keeping places whereas 1,328 cases were recorded in the wildlife. The disease was diagnosed for 2,456 wild boars (310 hunted and 2,146 found dead).
ASF is spreading not only in Lithuania, this has become a problem of the entire region. For example, in mid-2017, the Czech Republic informed of the first case of ASF in the wildlife. By the end of the year, 202 wild boars infected with ASF were identified in this country. Last year, the following ASF cases in the wildlife were recorded: in Latvia –for 1,431 wild boars in 947 locations, in Estonia –for 865 wild boars in 637 locations, in Poland – for 1,090 wild boars in 740 locations.
“Despite of implementation of different surveillance and prevention measures for this contagious animal disease, the ASF situation gives rise to concerns as, compared to 2016, the number of cases of the disease in the wildlife was more than 4 times as big (in 2016, there were 303 locations, whereas in 2017, there were 1,328 locations). The disease was introduced into new areas with a large wild boar population, therefore, the environment was very favourable for spreading the virus. Late last year, ASF reached Mažeikiai surroundings. A research leads to an assumption that the disease was introduced into this district from Latvia as dead wild boars were found at a 7.5 km distance from the location of ASF outbreaks identified in the neighbouring country. Early this week, ASF was for the first time diagnosed for a dead wild boar, which was found in the area of Akmenė district municipality. After assessment of information received from Latvian colleagues, I suppose that the virus can be also diagnosed in the wildlife in the Joniškis district in the near future”, – said Mr Darius Remeika, Director of the SFVS.
After assessment of the disease situation in our country as well as in the entire region, further ASF surveillance will be carried out and effective control measures will be applied. In Director’s words, during inspections conducted by inspectors of the SFVS, the focus on ensuring biosafety measures at the time of hunting and at the time of handling wild boar carrions, will be increased as without observing those measures the risk of spreading the ASF virus is very high.
The measure of paying 30 Eur per each reported dead wild boar carrion and 20–30 Eur for users of hunting areas for destruction of found dead wild boar carrions, which has been already applied for a few years, proved itself reasonable, therefore, the plan is to continue its application. Moreover, a 100 Eur compensation is planned for hunters for destruction of a hunted ASF-infected wild boar. Furthermore, the extension of the payment of 100 Eur for hunted female wild boars over 24 months old is under discussion.
According to Mr D. Remeika, the control of introduction of biosafety measures at pig keeping places will remain the key priority. The pig keepers will be not only inspected but also trained and advised on issues of reducing the risk of ASF infection for pigs. Those who fail to implement the biosafety measures will be offered compensations for early slaughter of pigs. Which locations will be subjected to more frequent inspections by SFVS officers will depend on ASF cases in the wildlife.
The SFVS reminds that biosafety requirements must be applied in pig keeping places throughout the territory of Lithuania as ASF is spread not only through wild boars. Humans can also carry the virus over long distances.