Fears of African Swine Fever Prompt Global Response

German hunting dogs are being trained to sniff out dead wild boar. Authorities are stockpiling electric fences along the eastern frontier. And the government in Berlin is urging drivers not to toss ham-sandwich scraps out of their car windows.

These are just some of the measures Europe’s top pork producer is taking to try to thwart the deadly African swine fever (ASF) that’s roiled global meat trade and is moving ever closer to its borders. After it was detected in Belgium last year, the viral disease recently popped up across western Poland, placing it a few dozen kilometers from Germany on either side.

A confirmed German case would disrupt an industry deeply rooted in the home of bratwurst and frankfurters. Despite its relatively small size compared with producers like China or the U.S., Germany is a heavyweight in the global pork trade—accounting for 15 percent of the world’s exports in 2017.

The livestock industry in Germany remains in close contact with veterinarians about how to handle a potential outbreak. Authorities are practicing measures they would take to cordon off sick swine and restrict the movement of everything from trucks carrying pigs to hunters and joggers.

In ASF news elsewhere, Indonesia confirmed the country’s first outbreak in December. The news had been expected based on pig mortality rates.
As of mid-December, more than 1,700 farming operations had been hit by the virus in Eastern Europe.

Canada launched a vaccine center as part of its effort to defend against the virus, which does not pose a risk to humans but is highly contagious and fatal to pigs. A vaccine does not exist to combat the disease.

Analysts expect China to lose as much as 40 percent of its herd to the disease.

Sources: Bloomberg, Ohio Ag Net, Politico