FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Awareness is key to stopping African swine fever in Eastern Europe

Stopping the spread of African swine fever in Eastern Europe is no easy task, but innovative prevention efforts introduced by FAO and SAFOSO, a consultancy and capacity-building firm based in Switzerland, are beginning to have an impact.

African swine fever is a virus that causes haemorrhagic fever in pigs and often leads to the animals’ death. Despite efforts to contain it, the disease has managed to spread since 2007 from Georgia across the entire Caucasus, into Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, and most recently to the European Union.

Its rapid spread across such a large geographic area demonstrates an alarming lack of awareness when it comes to proper handling of the disease.

“Everyone in the market chain from pig farmers to veterinarians and even consumers has a responsibility to help stop the spread of ASF,” said FAO animal health officer Andriy Rozstalnyy, speaking at the EC TAIEX workshop on biosecurity in Riga, Latvia last week. “This responsibility comes in the form of awareness of prevention, recognition, and reporting of ASF.”

To tackle the problem head-on, the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency and United States Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction has funded a one-year initiative to improve understanding of the ecology and epidemiology of African swine fever in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Efforts will include training in prevention and control measures.  The long-term goal is to have a regional network of knowledge and expertise that can manage the disease and prevent it from spreading any further.

10 April 2015, Budapest, Hungary