Struggle with ASF virus continues

Polish authorities find it hard to limit the spread of African Swine Fever virus. From the beginning of the year, there have been as much as 18 outbreaks of the disease reported in three regions of the country. The number of affected pig herds is on the increase.

African Swine Fever, or ASF, is a highly contagious viral disease affecting swine and wild boards. It is not dangerous for humans, but fatal for the animals that carry it. Due to this, the effect of the outbreak on the farmers, the whole meat industry, or even the entire Polish economy may be devastating.

The veterinarian authorities introduced several protective measures that are to limit the spread of the virus, such as zoning, disinfections, and ban on swine trade and transport in selected areas. If a virus outbreak is confirmed, all animals that had contact with ill hogs need to be put down.

The actions of the authorities are met with more and more resentment on the part of the farmers. They are not able to freely trade with their stock and suffer severe financial consequences if an outbreak hits their herds.

Farmers harshly criticize the Ministry of Agriculture for its apparent failure to curb the spread of the virus. This week, a protest took place in Białystok. The demonstrators, members of farmers’ associations, demanded more state aid and criticized the authorities for lack of adequate actions. They demanded several veterinary officials to resign. Farmers also want the authorities to launching intervention buying of hogs.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture revealed it is working on special legislation that will allow for unusual measures to be taken with respect to farmers living in the affected areas. The new regulations will allow them to sell healthy animals and in this way limit the costs they suffer due to the virus outbreaks. The meat is to be turned into army rations. The Parliament will take care of the bill draft after the summer holidays.

The authorities set up a special hotline for farmers where they may gain information on the protective measures they should take in order to fight off the disease and report any suspicion of virus presence. The hotline will be active 24/7. The veterinary services stress that strict biosecurity is key in the present circumstances.

The officials are convinced the recent outbreaks of African Swine Fever are to be credited to human activity, i.e. illegal transfer and sale of swine. Prosecutor’s Office have recently pressed charges against one person who is being accused of transporting hogs without proper veterinary documentation.