Following the first-ever detection of African swine fever in Ukraine, FAO is warning that while control measures appear to have temporarily halted the disease's spread, it has established a firm foothold in the Caucasus and poses an ongoing risk to neighbouring areas.
In addition to some other parts of Ukraine, nearby countries like Moldova, Kazakhstan and Latvia — which have large pig populations raised on household or family farms, and oftentimes weak biosecurity protocols — are also now at high risk of disease introduction.
In 2011, up to 300 000 pigs died or were culled as a result of ASF outbreaks in the Russian Federation, incurring an estimated $240 million in economic losses.
Ukraine has responded quickly, implementing sanitary measures, destroying affected pigs and imposing a quarantine zone around the village where the outbreaks occurred, according to Lubroth.
Most importantly, Ukraine has paid farmers compensation for pigs that were slaughtered and properly disposed of, so that poor families that depend on pig raising for food and income aren't left ruined by the loss of their pigs.
All countries at risk should stand ready to detect any ASF outbreaks as soon as they occur and respond in a similarly proactive fashion, according to FAO.
Prior to being introduced to the Caucasus in 2007, it had been confined for several decades to the African continent and the Italian island of Sardinia. Today, however, it is considered endemic in parts of the Russian Federation and some countries in the Caucasus region, including Georgia and Armenia. It was eradicated from the Iberian Peninsula in the mid 1990's after decades-long work between the veterinary services and swine producers.
"Swill feeding" should be avoided
FAO has continuously recommended a strict ban on "swill feeding," in which various food scraps and leftovers are fed as a mix of liquid and solid food to domestic pigs.
FAO studies on ASF in the Russian Federation indicate that swill feeding is responsible for 97 percent of all new infections in domestic pigs. The backyard sector, which accounts for 34 percent of the entire domestic pig population, is typically infected first before subsequently passing the virus on to small commercial farms and eventually industrial farms.
Bans on swill feeding can be challenging to enforce in resource-poor settings, where swill feeding is a low-cost option for feeding pigs.
Tuesday August 21, 2012/ FAO.