ASF update: Swine Disease Global Surveillance bi-monthly report

This report was published by the Swine Health Information Center and prepared by the University of Minnesota.

Epidemiological Situation

Belgium

On September 14th, the OIE official report of the 1st ASF case in Belgium was released, confirming our previous report. On Saturday, 15th, the Federal Agriculture minister confirmed three new cases in the same area of the initial report, identified in wild boars found dead in the city of Etalle (Luxembourg province), near the border with France.

On Friday evening, a multisectoral meeting took place in Belgium, where the farming, meat and animal feed sectors asked for priority measures against the spread of African Swine Fever to be in place. In the joint statement coming from that meeting, they draw up five possible critical needs/measures to mitigate the disease spreading: a European plan to define and maintain the affected zone; the creation of a committee dedicated to the export of meat and pork products; a regulated slaughtering and butchering method for pigs in the area which is under tight surveillance; a realistic and feasible plan to reduce the boar population in the country; and finally the creation of a crisis communication committee.

Arrangements are being done to ban the movement, hunting and feeding of wild boars in the region to control the spread of the disease by human interaction. An investigation and monitoring program is being implemented, with the support of European experts.

China

With the reporting of two new outbreaks today (September 14th), unofficially, there have been 21 ASF outbreaks reported in China. The last two reported outbreaks included (a) 16 hogs with sudden death in the Inner Mongolian Province, and (b) a farm in Henan Province, with 148 infected pigs and 43% fatality rate. Officially, however, the OIE WAHIS platform still reports only 19 outbreaks in six provinces (Figures 1 and 2). Although the cause of ASF introduction into China remains unclear, in March, 2018, FAO alerted for the risk of introduction of ASF into the country by illegal introduction of animals or food. There are also concerns that, similarly to what has been reported in Europe, wild boars may play a role in the spread of the disease.

Control Activities

Approximately 40,500 pigs have been culled since the beginning of the epidemic, with mortality rates that varied between 0 and 23.17% (Figure 1). The Chinese government reported checking pigs in thousands of sites, which may have resulted in the increase of the identification of new outbreaks. In an attempt to contain the spread of the disease, all transport of live animals from infected provinces is restricted, feed policy is being adjusted to the current scenario, and the logistics of the industry and the Chinese market are being reviewed. On September 13th, the use of food waste and pig blood as feed for pigs in ASF-infected and neighboring provinces was banned. Also, testing pig feed to ASF will be required, and positive samples will trigger destruction of the whole batch of feed.

Disease Impact

China is considering to import meat from other markets, including the European Union, that in 2017 faced an intense decline in pork exports. US hog market is also currently facing a low price market, however with expansion in number of sows and pork produced. International trade is at risk once ASF is spreading rapidly into consolidated markets like Europe and China, and concerns are growing around the globe.

 

Figure 1: Summary of outbreaks of African Swine Fever in China. Nineteen outbreaks were reported to OIE, in 6 provinces: Lianoning, Henan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Heilongjiang (Source: OIE – WAHIS).

 

Figure 2: Chinese provinces with reported ASF outbreaks (Lianoning, Henan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Heilongjiang). The intensity of the green shade depicts the number of culled animals, with the Province of Liaoning (darkest green) showing the highest cull rate.

 

 

African Swine Fever confirmed in Belgium: a Swine Disease Global Surveillance Report

African Swine Fever (ASF) has been confirmed in Belgium.

This report was published by the Swine Health Information Center and prepared by the University of Minnesota.

Although it has not been officially reported to the OIE yet, preliminary reports indicate that ASF has been confirmed in two wild boars near the southern village of Étalle, in the province of Luxembourg, which is located 8 miles (12 km) from the border with France and 11 miles (17 km) from Luxembourg. It appears to have jumped a considerable distance from previously affected countries, about 300 miles (500 km) from the border with the Czech Republic, 500 miles from Hungary, and 750 miles (1,200 km) from the border with Romania (approximate distances). The Belgian authorities report they are working to prevent the possible spread of the disease among wild boar and onto pig farms.

In 2017, Belgium exported $1.4 billion of pork, making it the eighth largest pork exporter by country, and it is unclear how trade within the European Union will be affected. Following the report, the French Minister of Agriculture called for “an adequate response given the considerable economic interests at stake for the French agri-food chain” and warned about the impact of the Belgian outbreak, calling on officials to stop the disease from spreading across the border.

ASF Belgium map 1
Figure 1: Europe. In red, village of Étalle, Belgium, location of the latest report of African Swine Fever.

ASF has been spreading through Eastern Europe, mostly associated with transmission through wild boars, a population that has been growing in Europe over the last decade.This new outbreak represents the expansion of the disease, for the first time during the current pandemic, into Western Europe (Figure 1). This is also the first time ASF has been diagnosed in Belgium since 1985, when 12 farms were infected and 60 farms (34,041 animals) were eliminated. A recent modeling exercise on the potential spread of ASF in Belgium suggested that, in most of the cases, the disease would be controlled before any spread; however, if ASF virus was introduced into commercial farms, the median number of infected farms was predicted to be 6 (see Simons et al at the References section).

This new outbreak may represent a new change in the epidemiologic situation of ASF worldwide, suggesting that the disease may have reached pandemic proportions. “Pandemic” is a term that refers to “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area”, which seems appropriate in this case, considering ASF expansion across Europe, and over considerable distances in China over the last year, in addition to the sustained occurrence of outbreaks in Africa and Russia.

ASF Beglium map 2
Figure 2: Europe. In red, Belgium, location of the latest report of African Swine Fever. In orange, European Countries that have reported ASF in this current pandemic of the disease.