African Swine Fever (ASF) has become endemic throughout the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Russian Federation since 2007. Recent developments in Eastern Europe and an incursion of the disease in July 2012 in Ukraine indicate that a further geographic spread of ASF is likely to occur. ASF is also endemic in areas of Africa. Although it has never affected Southeast Asia, the potential spread of the disease from the Russian Federation to China could result in vast losses, with China holding 50 per cent of the world's pig population. This fatal disease, for which there still is no vaccine or specific treatment, has a very high mortality and morbidity rate, with devastating economic consequences on small-scale pig farmers.
One of the principal ways in which to combat the infection is through imparting good rearing practices as well as training veterinarians to control and prevent the disease from spreading. As part of the Global Framework for Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the OIE and the financial support of the Government of Italy, Ministry of Health, and USDA, organized a training session in November 2013 to improve regional veterinary services in the Balkans and the Caucasus. Participants from Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine were invited for five days to the laboratories of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell'Umbria e Marche (IZS-UM) in Perugia, Italy.
The IZS-UM is a national ASF Reference Centre and it is equipped with Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) facilities. During the training, the participants learned to recognize the clinical symptoms and anatomic lesions on experimentally-infected pigs through post-mortem examinations. They also learned basic concepts of epidemiology and were given tools to prevent and control the spread of ASF. One of the important aspects of the training concerned biosecure sampling, packaging and dispatching of infected material to a national or international ASF Reference Centre. The training also covered biosecurity measures, pathological findings, outbreak investigation techniques and differential diagnosis with other relevant swine diseases.
Monday January 27, 2014/ FAO.