FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Ukraine gains expertise in diagnosing African swine fever

As African swine fever spreads rapidly through Eastern Europe and now threatens to make inroads to the west, a cohort of Ukrainian lab technicians are now trained in the latest and most effective methods for diagnosing the disease and containing the epidemic.

African swine fever is a viral disease that causes high fevers and hemorrhaging in pigs and wild boars. There is no vaccine or treatment and most infected animals die within days. Scientists, government officials and farmers are alarmed as the epidemic has already killed hundreds of thousands of pigs in Russian Federation and the Caucasus and has now spread to the Baltic region. While the disease poses no danger to human health or to other animals, it threatens the entire European swine industry, jeopardizing livelihoods, food security and nutrition. “The key to curbing the outbreak is identifying the virus and isolating all infected livestock quickly,” said Andriy Rozstalnyy, an animal health expert based at FAO’s regional office in Budapest. “Early detection will help veterinarians take the necessary steps to stop this disease in its tracks.”

In Kiev, FAO epidemiologists and livestock experts updated local lab technicians on the status of the contagious disease in Ukraine and Europe. The technicians, coming from veterinary medicine laboratories across Ukraine, were trained to accurately and efficiently diagnose African swine fever using molecular genetics and serological research methods.

Early detection will help veterinarians identify infected pigs, but policymakers may need to consider compensation policies for farmers in order to encourage reporting of disease outbreaks and ease economic hardship due to livestock losses.

The training, which took place 20-24 October in Kiev, was organized by FAO and hosted by the State Scientific Research Institute of Laboratory Diagnostics and Veterinary and Sanitary Expertise.

10 November, 2014, Kiev, Ukraine