PARIS (Reuters) – Germany should follow Belgium’s example and contain the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) locally to wild animals to limit trade restrictions on pigmeat exports, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Thursday.
A case of ASF has been confirmed in a wild boar near the German-Polish border in the state of Brandenburg, raising concern that some countries will impose import bans on German pigmeat or from regions where it has been found.
ASF is harmless to humans but deadly for pigs and outbreaks in eastern Europe and China have severely disrupted the pork industry there.
“It is very bad news but the fact that it is in a wild animal and not on a farm and that the outbreak is close to Poland which is already infected is less problematic,” Monique Eloit, Director General of the Paris-based OIE, told Reuters.
“Still, having ASF in wild animals maintains a high risk that it passes to a farm,” she said.
Germany is one of the European Union’s top pigmeat exporters along with Spain and its main export markets are China and South Korea.
Asian countries including China regularly impose bans on pork from regions where ASF has been discovered, causing painful loss of business. South Korea has already said it would ban pork leaving Germany from Sept. 10 onwards.
Belgium, which discovered an outbreak of ASF in 2018, set up a large no-go zone around the outbreak to control wild boar and allowed shooting to lower the number of animals.
It also built a fence to avoid it spreading to France.
This prevented geographic spread and it reaching farms, so Belgium was able to re-open some export markets including India, Vietnam and Singapore.
“I would think that the Germans will do the same. They have been preparing themselves for a while. They saw that the eastern front was approaching,” she said.
The state of Brandenburg said it will impose a 15-km quarantine zone around the area where the case was found and banned hunting while a search for any more dead wild boar is made.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Gus Trompiz and David Evans)