A wild boar has been found with African swine fever (ASF) for the first time in mainland Greece.

The female boar was found in the region of Sintiki, near the country’s border with Bulgaria, earlier this month.

Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has said that although the origin of the infection remains unknown, signs point to Greece’s neighbouring countries of Bulgaria and North Macedonia as they have continued to report cases of ASF in wild boar in recent weeks.

Prior to this confirmed case in wild boar, the most recent outbreak of ASF in Greece was in February of 2020, in a backyard holding keeping 32 pigs.

The department has confirmed that there has been no movement of live pigs into Ireland from Greece in the past six months.

It warns that infected wild boar play an important role in the spread of ASF, but that humans can also transmit it to pigs by feeding them food waste contaminated with ASF, or by bringing clothing, footwear, vehicles and equipment contaminated with ASF onto a pig farm.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) has echoed this: “The ASF virus is highly resistant in the environment and pork products, meaning that it can survive in clothes, boots, wheels, and other materials, and cross borders if adequate measures are not taken.

“Thus, the transmission from country to country can be facilitated by travelers if they carry infected pigs or contaminated pork products and do not declare them to the transport authorities,” it said.

African swine fever

ASF affects all pigs, including wild boar, but it is not the same disease as swine influenza as it does not affect humans.

According to the DAFM, clinical signs of ASF commonly appear between four and seven days following infection, but a range of three to 15 days has been reported.

Once a pig starts to show signs of disease, it warned, these are often severe and usually fatal. When the disease has been present in a country for a long time, chronic cases of the disease can occur.

The main clinical signs of ASF are:

  • High temperature;
  • Reddening of the skin;
  • Haemorrhages;
  • Vomiting;
  • Diarrhoea;
  • Sudden death;
  • Abortion in pregnant pigs.

The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that, to prevent the spread of the disease, pig keepers should practice strict biosecurity.

This includes: Wearing protective clothing and boots, and providing these for anyone coming onto the premises; cleaning and disinfecting vehicles and equipment that have been used in areas where pigs are and disposing of leftovers or waste food in secure bins that pigs or wildlife cannot access.