Germany confirms its first case of African swine fever

Germany has confirmed its first case of African swine fever (ASF) in a wild boar found dead in Brandenburg close to the border with Poland.

The news was announced today (September 10) by German Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner.

The National Reference Laboratory for ASF at the Friedrich Loeffler Institute carried out the test on bones from a “largely decayed” carcass of a wild boar found around 6km from the border.

“It can, therefore, be assumed that the entry took place a few weeks ago,” a statement from the institute read.

The risk of the pathogen being introduced into Germany was classified as ‘high’. A series of strict measures have been introduced to avoid any further cases and the activation of a crisis management plan.

Image source Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut

“The geographic distance to the closest confirmed case of ASF in Poland is only 30km. The proximity to the German-Polish border of about 6km makes an entry by a migrating wild boar likely,” the statement read.

An introduction by humans through contaminated food cannot be ruled out. The responsible veterinary authorities on site must now take the necessary measures.

The ASF virus has been spreading in the Asian-European region since 2007 and reached the eastern border of the EU in 2014.

However, the virus can spread over greater distances through human movement – for example, through the improper disposal of contaminated food.

The statement explained Brandenburg had also erected a protective fence against the ASF on the border with Poland in December 2019.

Testing wild boar

German authorities are now asking farmers to report findings of wild boar so they can be tested for the virus.

“It is now extremely important for farmers to carefully observe farm biosecurity,” a spokesperson said.

“This still offers the best protection against the pathogen entering farm animal populations. The pig keeping hygiene regulation serves as the legal basis for this.

Wild boars that have died should continue to be intensively examined nationwide for the presence of ASF; wild boars found dead should be reported immediately to the responsible authorities.

“This is usually done by calling. A marking and georeferencing of the site facilitate the further procedure. A photo of the place of discovery and the animal’s body would also be desirable.”

Copa and Cogeca secretary-general For Pekka Pesonen said: “The identification of infected wild boars in Germany today is, of course, a source of concern for the whole European pig meat sector.

Nevertheless, we should be reassured. Germany proved its capacity for rapid response and effective actions while the Brandenburg region has a low pig production.

“The recent and positive management by Belgian and Czech authorities of ASF shows that biosecurity measures taken by farmers and public authorities are efficient in the EU.”