Czechia is the 1st country in the EU to be officially declared free from African Swine Fever (ASF) after it was infected in recent years. As no outbreak has been found in Czechia since April 2018, the country received the support of the EU member states to lift all restrictions in the country.
This support comes less than 2 years after the country 1st reported ASF, followed by massive efforts to eradicate the disease. All outbreaks occurred around the city of Zlín in the south of the country, where a first outbreak was found in June 2017.
Ever since, the European Commission deployed its EU Veterinary Emergency team of experts and started working closely with the national and regional authorities to adopt veterinary measures to control the disease.
ASF can be controlled and eradicated
The proposal to lift all restrictions was endorsed by a vote in a standing committee. In a press release by the European Commission, Vytenis Andriukaitis, commissioner for health and food safety, said: “The example of Czechia demonstrates that, when the tools and strategies developed in the EU are properly applied, the disease can be controlled and even eradicated. It shows that our policies are effective and there is no place for unjustified trade restrictions. This is a small reward, yet we cannot afford to relax our efforts since the fight against African swine fever is still ongoing.”
The European Commission will formally adopt the decision in the coming weeks.
Making sure ASF virus does not escape
The approach in Czechia consists of a package of targeted measures. Basically this comes down to restricting access and entrance of a kernel zone around an outbreak in combination with monitoring and immediate removal of carcasses; in combination with intensive hunting of wild boar in the area surrounding this kernel zone. This way the virus is contained and fought and cannot escape.
According to data supplied to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), in the Czech Republic in total 221 wild boar died of the virus between June 2017 and April 2018. The last outbreak was found on 19 April. No domestic pigs were infected in the country.
ASF situation in Belgium
The strategy is also has also been implemented in recent months in Belgium, the latest member state concerned by the disease, since September 2018. In Belgium the current count is at 550 dead wild boar – last week another 28 were confirmed. Also in Belgium the virus has not been found in domestic pigs.