African Swine Fever: Panic as first case of HIGHLY infectious disease recorded in Germany

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Agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner said the case concerned a wild boar found near the German-Polish border in the eastern state of Brandenburg last night. She said tests carried out by researchers from the Friedrich Loeffler Institute overnight had confirmed the disease. The minister said the disease is not dangerous to humans but fatal to pigs.

The point now is to prevent further spread and transmission to domestic pig populations at all costs

Karlheinz Busen

In the event of an outbreak among domestic pigs, all animals on affected farms would have to be killed.

In addition, restricted areas are to be set up within a radius of at least 1.8 miles around the farm and observation areas within a radius of at least six miles.

Some countries impose import bans from regions where it has been discovered, even in non-farm wild boars.

There have been fears in Germany that its major exports of pork to China and other Asian regions could be threatened if the disease arrives in the country.

Asian countries including giant buyer China regularly impose import bans on pork from regions where ASF has been discovered, causing painful loss of business.

Ms Kloeckner said the German government has been in contact overnight with China, a major importer of German pigmeat.

She said the two countries had never signed a formal agreement about the disease “so therefore we are in permanent dialogue”.

The minister said Germany was stressing “the principle of regionality” in the case and expected German pigmeat trade with other European countries to continue.

Regionality means foreign buyers only impose meat import restrictions only on a region of a supply country which has been hit by a serious animal disease.

Germany exported some 158,000 tonnes of pork worth £385 million between January and April 2020, double the amount from the same time in 2019.

Germany had feared a spread of the disease after cases were confirmed in wild boars in west Poland in past months with one Polish case found only about six miles from the German border.

Cases have also been recently confirmed in about 10 other European countries in wild boars which are suspected to be spreading the disease.

Ms Kloeckner said there was “no reason to panic” and that German authorities were intensively assessing what measures now need to be taken to combat the disease, especially to protect pigs on farms.

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Government spokesman Karlheinz Busen said: “The point now is to prevent further spread and transmission to domestic pig populations at all costs.”

The Brandenburg state crisis centre and municipal crisis centres are involved in the preparation of protective measures.

A spokesman said there have been several large-scale exercises in dealing with animal diseases over the past few years.

(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)

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