African Swine Fever outbreak in Poland

African Swine Fever, or ASF, is a deadly disease attacking swine and boars. Although it does not pass on to humans and is not dangerous to us, it does considerable damage to swine herds and farming industry. The disease is highly contagious.

The disease originates from Africa, and was reported in Eastern Europe, namely in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and the Baltic States: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The deadly virus affects wild boars who may transmit the disease between regions and countries.

The symptoms of ASF are fever, bleeding, loss of appetite, depression. Eventually, the disease leads to death of the virus carrier. Outbreaks need to be confirmed by laboratory tests. There is no cure for the disease.

Several outbreaks have been reported in Poland so far. Most of them are located in Podlaskie voivodship that borders with Belarus, Lithuania and Kaliningrad. Strict measures have been implemented to stop the disease from spreading, such as zoning. All pigs that could have had contact with the virus are killed and farm equipment disinfected.

Extensive investigation into the possible causes of outbreak and health checks of swine herds in the area are being conducted by Chief Veterinarian Inspectorate and other authorities. The presence of the African Swine fever virus has been confirmed by laboratory tests.

According to Krzysztof Jażdżewski, deputy Veterinary Officer, it is not likely that the virus was passed on to swine from wild boars. The contamination is most likely caused by human activity.

The outbreak is a huge blow to Polish meat exporters. Numerous countries introduced embargo on Polish pork. Export numbers dropped significantly. Once the disease is eradicated, a whole year needs to pass before Poland may relaunch pork export. The government is offering compensation to farmers for the herds that need to be exterminated.

Citizens have been warned against buying meat from unnamed sources. The African Swine Fever virus remains in pig meat for months after the animal is killed and is a possible source of contamination and spread of ASF.

In the Podlaskie voivodship a ban was introduced on organizing of shows, trade events, or competitions involving swine.

The matter is so serious, that Prime Minister Beata Szydło created a team of experts that are to work on countering the negative impact of ASF on Polish farming industry. So far, there have been 13 cases of ASF reported in Poland in total.