First African swine fever case found in Germany

By: AFP      Published: 06:07 PM, 10 Sep, 2020
First African swine fever case found in Germany

Germany on Thursday confirmed a first case of African swine fever, threatening to severely hit the country's key pork market.

Scientists found swine fever in a dead wild boar near the German-Polish border in the eastern state of Brandenburg, the German agricultural ministry said.

"Unfortunately, the suspicion has been confirmed," said Julia Kloeckner, minister for agriculture, after the dead animal was tested overnight.

Germany is Europe's largest producer of pork, with around five million tons produced each year.

African swine fever is deadly among wild boars and domestic pigs, and highly contagious, but not harmful to humans.

Some nations, including China, require imports to be from a country that is free from swine fever.

German pork has recently seen a surge in demand from China after the Asian country's own swine fever outbreak meant millions of pigs were slaughtered.

Exports from the Brandenburg region will be restricted, Kloeckner said, but the pork trade with the EU will continue from unaffected regions.

The news adds to the concerns already facing the German pork sector.

The country's largest meat production plant was temporarily closed in June after more than 1,000 workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

African swine fever is not related to swine flu, which killed more than 18,000 people when it spread across the world in 2009, according to the World Health Organization.

Since late 2019, several cases of African swine fever had been detected in western Poland, and some observers believed it was only a matter of time before it crossed the border.

Drastic measures have been taken in recent months in Germany, such as the use of sniffer dogs trained to track down dead boars and drones.

Brandenburg state even erected a 120-kilometre (75-mile) long electric fence designed to stop wild boars.