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3 pig farms struck by African swine fever outbreaks in Germany

3 pig farms struck by African swine fever outbreaks in Germany
German authorities have confirmed an outbreak of the deadly African swine fever (ASF) among domesticated pigs with three farms affected so far. The country’s wild boar population has been plagued by the disease for months already.

The third outbreak of ASF was detected on a small farm in the eastern German state of Brandenburg over the weekend, local health authorities have said. Four animals have contracted the disease and two have already died. The two other animals have been ordered to be culled.

Two other outbreaks were confirmed by the health authorities on Friday. The disease hit a large organic farm with some 200 animals, as well as a smallholding with only two pigs.

“For almost a year we have been fighting against the enormous pressure of the disease from Poland,” Brandenburg’s state health minister, Ursula Nonnemacher, said when announcing the news.

“I very much regret the first cases in farm pigs, but sadly this possibility could never be fully ruled out.”

East Germany’s wild boars have been plagued by ASF for months already, with the first cases detected back in September 2020. The outbreak has affected the state of Brandenburg, which borders Poland, and, to a lesser extent, Saxony. With cross-border contagion believed to be the primary source of the disease, the authorities have tried to stop the wild boars from roaming freely between the two countries, erecting fences and laying traps.

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The disease reaching domesticated animals, however, is unlikely to affect Germany’s economy, given that its exports were hit with bans by China and other major pork buyers last year. To compensate for the losses, Germany ramped up sales within the EU, where its pork is still allowed under the so-called regionalization concept. Under such an approach, exports are restricted only from regions where ASF is found, but a whole country is not subjected to a blanket ban.

While deadly for pigs, ASF does not pose danger for humans or other animals. The only effective way to stop its spread, however, is by culling the entire stock of the affected husbandry facilities.

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