Germany confirms first case of swine fever in wild animal


A case of African swine fever (ASF) has been confirmed in a wild boar in eastern Germany, the country’s agriculture minister said on Thursday.

The case concerned a wild boar, not a farm animal, found near the German-Polish border in the eastern state of Brandenburg, German agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner said at a press conference.

A suspected case in a wild boar was announced on Wednesday night and tests from the Friedrich Loeffler Institute had confirmed the presence of the disease, Kloeckner said.

The disease is not dangerous to humans but fatal to pigs. Some countries impose import bans from regions where it has been discovered, even in non-farm wild boars.

There have been fears in Germany that its major exports of pork to China and other Asian regions could be threatened if the disease arrives in the country. Asian countries including giant buyer China regularly impose import bans on pork from regions where ASF has been discovered, causing painful loss of business.

Kloeckner said the German government has been in contact overnight with China, a major importer of German pigmeat. Germany does not have a formal agreement with China about the disease “so therefore we are in permanent dialogue,” she said.

Germany is stressing “the principle of regionality” in the case, which dos not concern a farm animal, she said. She expected German pigmeat trade with other European countries to continue.

Regionality means that buyers impose meat import restrictions only on a region of a supply country which has been hit by a serious animal disease, she said.

Germany exported some 158,000 tonnes of pork worth 424 million euros ($501.6 million) to China between January and April 2020, double the tonnage in the same time in 2019, Germany’s national statistics office said.

Germany had feared a spread of the disease after cases were confirmed in wild boars in west Poland in past months with one Polish case found only about 10 kms (6.2 miles) from the German border. Cases have also been recently confirmed in about 10 other European countries in wild boars which are suspected to be spreading the disease.

The case is “no reason to panic”, Kloeckner said, adding that German authorities are intensively assessing what measures now need to be taken to combat the disease, especially to protect pigs on farms.

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