FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Montenegro undertakes African swine fever simulation exercise

FAO is leading a two-day simulation exercise on African swine fever starting today in Podgorica, Montenegro. The exercise is part of a wider FAO effort helping Balkan countries bolster their capacities for responding to a possible outbreak of African swine fever, a dangerous transboundary animal disease without a cure or a vaccine.

A group of 20 people, staff of the Veterinary Sector from the Administration for Food safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Affairs of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management and private veterinarians, guided by FAO animal health experts, will simulate the response to a possible African swine fever outbreak in Montenegro.

During the first day, two disease suspicion visits will be carried out: one on a commercial farm and another on a backyard farm. The aim of the field work is to practice procedures in case of a disease suspicion including the biosecure entry and exit, clinical and pathological examination, sampling and epidemiological investigation – all in the same way as it would happen in a real emergency.

“Even though summer is not the best time for field exercises, we are glad that we could organize the event that we planned originally a year ago,” said FAO animal health preparedness expert Mark Hovari. “Montenegro has been preparing for a possible introduction of African swine fever in the past years and we are here to help them improve their preparedness even further.”

The second day will continue with exercise activities focusing on recapping response measures on a farm, in case the disease is confirmed, and practicing stamping out procedures such as depopulation, disposal, and disinfection. Discussions will also be held on how to approach a situation when ASF is detected not in domestic pig but in wild boar. The aim is to challenge the veterinary actors to respond correctly to a possible outbreak of the disease.

In 2019, FAO organized an assessment mission, a biosecurity workshop and a workshop on ASF in wild boar and hunting biosecurity in Montenegro. In 2020, focus shifted to online meetings and trainings, while later this year a series of trainings for hunters is planned completing the activities planned to prepare the country for ASF.

18 August 2021, Podgorica, Montenegro