Poland’s ASF zones keep exports rolling

African swine fever in Poland is causing the pork industry there significant harm but pork exports keep rolling thanks to disease control zones.

ASF first entered Poland in the eastern Podlaskie province and spread to other areas including Lublin and Masovia and even around the capital Warsaw.

Pork is critical to the country’s economy, accounting for exports equivalent to about C$2.245 billion, and to the national population, who consume more than 40 kilograms of pork per head per year.

Poland reported 68 new cases of ASF in its domestic pig herd from July 2018 to February 2019 and 1,692 cases in its wild boar population in the same period.

In a bid to maintain exports the Polish government set up special control zones designed to assure consumers that pork from a zone free of ASF is safe to eat.

This zoning program is managed by the General Veterinary Inspectorate in Poland in official efforts to contain the spread of ASF in the country.

Within protection and surveillance zones, producers are prohibited from moving pigs from the holding areas, and all pig owners are obligated to immediately notify authorities about all cases of dead or diseased pigs in the holdings.

When ASF hit Poland, the authorities, in co-operation with the European Commission, set up three zones that are each enforced by a different set of regulations, depending on the risk of ASF in that area.

Zone 1 is a buffer zone that is disease free, Zone 2 has the disease present in the wild boar population and Zone 3 has ASF present in both the commercial pig population and the wild boar population.

Polish authorities say disease control measures will be enforced in zones 2 and 3, otherwise known as protection zones, conforming to European Union regulations.

There are trade restrictions on all zones and additional culling measures have been taken in other areas of Poland.

Various orders controlling the movements of pigs into and out of zones is also in force.

Regulations controlling movements within and out of Zone 1 include clinical testing of pigs by official veterinarians not earlier than 24 hours before the movement.

Only when a health certificate is issued, confirming that no pigs show symptoms indicating ASF, can the pigs be moved.

Investigations have provided possible sources of ASF virus introduction into herds. These include:

  • Non-compliance with biosecurity rules in regard to handling of pigs kept with another species (cattle or horses); or hay or grass for feeding animals, brought from places where cases of ASF in wild boars have occurred.
  • Non-compliance with biosecurity rules, due to lack of fences, lack of disinfection mats and similar equipment.
  • Non-compliance with biosecurity rules during human activity in an area related to contamination with ASF virus.
  • Illegal movements of pigs of unknown origin.

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