Since the end of June cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) have continued to be reported in wild boar and outbreaks in domestic pigs in Eastern Europe and western Eurasia.

While ASF has not moved substantially westward across Europe since the reports in wild boar in the Czech Republic in June 2017, outbreaks in backyard pigs in Romania have increased exponentially. The disease has recently jumped west within Romania, likely from the south-east part of the country near the border with Ukraine. There are now nine regions reporting outbreaks in backyard domestic pigs.

In addition outbreaks have occurred in pig farms in northern Poland along the border with Kaliningrad.

ASF is continuing to spread within Eastern Europe, although there is no evidence of spread westwards in the EU.

There are two trends observed which are cause for concern.

First is the spread and number of outbreaks in the large non-commercial backyard pig sector in Romania.

The second is the increase in outbreaks in large commercial pig farms (>1,000 pigs) in countries including Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine.

There are concerns around ASF-contaminated or infected pork products from non-EU countries entering the EU in passenger luggage and then being discarded in areas where wild boar or outdoor pigs are present. Publicity campaigns are in place to discourage EU nationals from bringing pork products into UK, but keepers should also be aware of this high risk activity.

The risk of ASF introduction to the UK was previously raised to “low” in August 2017. This was because despite the relatively low level of legal trade in live pigs or commercially produced pig products, there could be a risk from the fomite pathway involving movement of people and vehicles from affected Eastern EU countries and the evidence around the findings of contaminated / infected non-EU origin pig products detected in the EU (according to presentations by Hungary and Slovakia at PAFF this year).

This risk is showing no sign of decreasing, and it is vital that visitors to the EU Member States understand the impact of bringing personal food items which are discarded for wildlife to pick up. Similarly, visitors to affected areas that have any contact with the environment around wild boar cases should be vigilant about cleaning and disinfecting any vehicles, clothing, footwear or equipment, including hunting equipment, which may be contaminated. Hunters visiting affected areas should not bring back “trophies” as these could be contaminated.

The current risk of ASF introduction to the UK is therefore still considered to be “low”, although the situation is being kept under review.

All pig keepers and the public should ensure pigs are not fed catering waste, kitchen scraps or pork products, thereby observing the swill feeding ban.

All pig keepers should be aware that visitors to their premises should not have had recent contact with affected regions.

Anybody returning from the affected EU MSs should avoid contact with domestic pigs, whether commercial holdings or smallholdings, areas with feral pigs or wild boar, until they are confident they have no contaminated clothing, footwear or equipment.

Pig keepers and veterinarians should remind themselves of the clinical signs for ASF, which may not always be immediately obvious, as this virus appears to have reduced pathogenicity according to some disease reports. Any suspect cases must be reported promptly.

The public is reminded that any feeding of meat products, including the feeding of swill, kitchen scraps and catering waste, to wild boar or feral pigs is illegal.