The second outbreak of African swine fever this year has been recorded in Lithuania

The State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS) informs that, in the situation when new cases of African swine fever (ASF) in the wildlife are still recorded from time to time, Telšiai country faces the highest probability for the introduction of this virus into farm holdings this year, and residents of Plungė district who are rearing pigs have to be particularly alert. The second ASF outbreak this year has been recorded in Plungė district, in a small farm where 5 pigs were fattened for own purposes.

Suspicions of the disease arose when one of the pigs died all of a sudden in the farm holding. Blood samples were taken from all the pigs, organ samples were taken from the dead pig, and the samples were sent to the National Food and Veterinary Risk Assessment Institute where ASF was diagnosed for all the pigs. Yesterday, two more pigs died. The outbreak eradication operations are carried at the farm holding today. A 3 km protection zone and a 10 km surveillance zone have been demarcated around the infected farm holding covering areas of Plungė and Skuodas districts. A census of pig keepers and pigs kept will be carried out in those areas to find out if the ASF has not spread outside the boundaries of the farm holding.

SFVS specialists started an investigation to determine how the ASF virus could have been introduced into the farm holding. According to surveillance data of a few years, the major source of the introduction of the ASF virus into pig keeping places is contaminated environment and the circulation of the ASF virus in wild boar. The latest ASF cases in dead wild boar in Plungė district were recorded on 23 July. Before that, the virus was also confirmed for a hunted wild boar on 18 June. Specialists engaged in investigations observe quite intensive circulation of this virus in Samogitia, in particular in areas of Plungė district, and the numbers of dead wild boar can be substantially higher, however, the search for dead wild boar in those areas is not very active, moreover, the spotting of dead animals in the summer season becomes complicated because of high grass, etc.

And still the highest risk in infected areas is posed by human activity, i. e. visiting forests located in infected areas, gathering mushrooms, berries, and, in particular, ignoring biosafety requirements in farm holdings. Therefore, it is very likely that with the intensive circulation of the virus in the wildlife and with pig keepers failing to duly observe biosafety requirements, the infection can be transmitted from the wildlife to non-commercial pig keeping holdings. In Plungė district alone, there are more than 170 pig rearing farm holdings with more than 500 pigs kept.

The SFVS warns that persons keeping pigs have to avoid visiting forests infected with ASF. If a dead wild boar is found the carrion must not be touched to preclude the increase in the spread of the virus. In case of an ASF risk, animals must be protected against any potential contact with persons from outside, other animals; pigs must not be fed with heat untreated feed or kitchen swill. Footwear, working clothes have to be changed before going to an animal house, only items and supplies dedicated for feeding and attending pigs must be used. Personal hygiene must be observed and hands must be washed regularly.

Each pig keeper has to apply maximum efforts to preclude the introduction of the virus into his farm holding as, in case of detection of ASF, due to different restrictions to be applied, substantial losses are incurred not only by him but also by other pig rearing farm holdings in the surrounding areas as well as slaughterhouses or meat processing plants.

According to specialists’ opinion, in view of cases recorded in the wildlife, there is also a high risk of the occurrence of ASF in pig keeping holdings in Kaunas, Telšiai, Švenčionys, Utena, Molėtai and Vilnius districts. In the neighboring countries, the ASF situation is not favorable as well. In Latvia, there have been 3 outbreaks recorded this year with more than 11.5 thousand of pigs destroyed, while in Poland there were as many as 15 outbreaks with nearly 40 thousand pigs destroyed. 

In case any changes in the behavior of pigs kept are noticed or if they die, you must immediately contact veterinary specialists or report the SFVS on the 24-hour free phone line 8 800 40 403.