The French Ministry of Agriculture announced on Thursday that an outbreak of African swine fever had been detected in a pig farm in Germany, six kilometers from the French border, in Forchheim am Kaiserstuhl. The affected farm, with 35 free-range pigs, was completely depopulated.
The nightmare of pig farmers is getting closer: an outbreak of African swine fever has been detected in a farm in Germany, six kilometers from the French border, the French Ministry of Agriculture announced on Thursday. In this farm which is located in Forchheim am Kaiserstuhl, less than 40 kilometers from Colmar, the 35 pigs which were raised in the open air were killed and “no case has been identified at this stage within the wild fauna in surrounding area,” the ministry said. It is the “first case highlighted on the western border of Germany (…) on the other side of the Rhine”, specifies the ministry.
A protective zone set up
In conjunction with the European Commission, a protection and surveillance zone has been set up by the German authorities, who will “intensify the search for wild boar carcasses and control the surrounding farms”. The Ministry of Agriculture will launch a crisis unit “next week” with “all professionals and state services”. African swine fever kills pigs, wild boars and warthogs within ten days of infection, according to the European Food Safety Authority, and has no treatment or vaccine.
On the scale of an affected farm, all the pigs are slaughtered. Congeners from neighboring farms are usually also to avoid the spread. The virus is transmitted from one animal to another through the consumption of infected food – for example if domestic pigs are fed with leftovers – or through contact with any contaminated medium. Not transmissible to humans, the virus can however survive for more than two months in meat and cold cuts from affected animals.
1.1 million cases recorded since 2020
Since January 2020, cases have been reported in 38 countries across five continents, with more than 1.1 million cases in domestic pigs and more than 34,000 in wild boars, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). ). African swine fever is circulating in particular in wildlife in Italy, where an emergency plan to stem the virus in the Rome region, which has had eight cases since the start of the year, has been launched. The economic consequences linked to the virus can be heavy for breeders.
At the national level, the country loses its free status, which implies a limitation or even a ban on exports outside the European Union not only of live pigs but also of pork products. States usually negotiate “regionalization” agreements, so that their free regions can continue to export. France signed an agreement with China in December, allowing it to continue exporting pork to this major customer, even if a case of African swine fever were to arise in the territory. China, the world’s leading producer, consumer and importer of this meat, is a big market for France. In 2020, the country absorbed almost a third of French exports.