Press Release 97/16

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Press Release 97/16

But, intensive epidemiological surveillance continues

ROME, April 25 --- “The outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF), first reported in April 1996 in Cote d’Ivoire, has been brought under control and no new outbreak has been reported in the country since last October,” the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.

More than 100,000 pigs died or were slaughtered during the outbreak, mainly in the Abidjan area, where the virus was initially introduced and where 90 percent of Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial pig breeding is located. Pigs transported by some breeders and traders caused the disease to spread rapidly through the central and western regions of the country.

African Swine Fever is a viral disease known in Africa for almost a century. The virus is extremely resistant to destruction and remains in the infected animal’s tissues, as well as its bodily fluids, whether the animal dies from the disease or survives, thus easily spreading the disease. The virus remains viable for a long time, even in processed meats. Before the outbreak, African Swine Fever had not been diagnosed in Cote d’Ivoire. The swine population of the country was estimated in early 1996 at about 400,000.

FAO began work in Cote d’Ivoire in June 1996, immediately following confirmation of African Swine Fever by an international laboratory and in July launched a $300,000 Technical Cooperation Project in cooperation with the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES). The project assisted the Cote d’Ivoire Veterinary Service to conduct an efficient battle against the disease, preventing it from spreading to other countries in West Africa.

EMPRESS is an FAO program to promote effective containment and control of the most serious epidemic livestock diseases as well as newly emerging diseases by progressive elimination on a regional and global basis through international cooperation involving early warning, rapid reaction, research and coordination.

FAO also assisted Cote d’Ivoire to establish a system for epidemiosurveillance and will advise Cote d’Ivoire authorities on how to rebuild pork production incorporating appropriate sanitary measures.

Pork constituted 15% of the total meat consumed in the country. It was especially important as the cheapest meat available and was widely used by the poorest segments of the population.

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