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Germany faces long-term fight against African swine fever

Germany faces long-term fight against African swine fever

A farmer holds a piglet in Tauche, Germany, on Jan 30, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Axel Schmidt)

HAMBURG: Germany is facing a long-term battle to eradicate African swine fever carried into the east of the country by wild animals, state and federal authorities said on Wednesday (Sep 1).

Some 2,036 cases of the disease have been confirmed in wild boar near the border with Poland, where the disease is widespread. Wild animals crossing into Germany from Poland were behind an outbreak last year.

China and many other pork buyers banned imports of German pork in September 2020 after the first case was confirmed in wild boar, causing a major loss of business for Germany.

"African swine fever is a problem for the whole of Germany and the entire European Union," Wolfram Guenther, agriculture minister in the eastern state government of Saxony, said after a meeting of state and federal agriculture ministries about countering ASF.

"The fight against ASF is a real long-term challenge as we must prevent or at least minimise the spread over a long border."

In July, the disease, which is lethal to pigs but harmless to humans and for which there is no vaccine, was found in pigs on three east German farms, complicating trade talks with pork importers including China.

Germany's strategy to tackle the disease includes building fences along the Polish border to stop wild boar entering the country, increasing hunting of wild animals and stricter hygiene measures on farms. The disease has so far been contained in border regions with Poland.

"If the disease spreads further westwards, other German states could become ASF regions, with all consequences," said Guenther, who called for more financial support from the EU and federal government.

Uwe Feiler, the junior federal agriculture minister, said Germany had unsuccessfully urged Poland to build its own border fence.

Source: Reuters/ec


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