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With FAO help, Moldova offers a good example of handling African swine fever

As the latest European country to detect cases of African swine fever, Moldova has control over the disease for now, thanks in part to a short, targeted intervention by FAO.

African swine fever is a rapidly spreading transboundary animal disease. Moldova experienced two outbreaks in September 2016, and dealt with both in time to prevent further damage.

In parallel, FAO was assisting Moldova’s National Food Safety Agency on prevention and control of transboundary animal diseases, particularly African swine fever. At the time, the disease was spreading rapidly in many countries in the region (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation and Ukraine), affecting rural livelihoods and disrupting trade.

African swine fever – which infects pigs and wild boar – is spreads mainly through the movement of live animals or animal products. Both outbreaks in Moldova (in Donduseni region) were traced back to infected pork bought at a Ukrainian market. Since this is a common practice, FAO advises authorities to be prepared for more outbreaks in the future.

The first step for Moldova was to revise the existing regulatory framework and develop a national strategy for African swine fever prevention and control. This served to improve existing laws and regulations in line with international standards. In addition, a national contingency plan was developed.

Legislation affects commercial and non-commercial farms as well as management of wild boar.

On 13 December, FAO organized a desktop simulation of an African swine fever outbreak. The event, in Chisinau, involved more than 60 veterinary professionals from the Food Safety Agency’s national and regional divisions, along with farm veterinarians. The simulation exercise improved participants’ knowledge, and encouraged strong cooperation among administrative structures.

“Probably the most visible product of this project is the launch of an online platform,” said FAO animal health officer Daniel Beltran-Alcrudo. “This information system, based on the state register of animals, should support the decision-making process on African swine fever surveillance and control, which builds on quick and accurate risk analysis.”

The information system, accessible at www.asf-md.info, offers easy access to data and visualization for vets, pig owners, farmers, hunters, butchers, transporters and the general public on African swine fever. Training on the use of the system took place in late January, again in Chisinau.

The highly contagious disease of pigs is caused by the Iridovirus, which is strongly resistant to physical and chemical inactivation. In most cases, it causes haemorrhagic fever and the death of the animal.

Illegal trade of pigs and pork from bordering countries affected by African swine fever is a frequent occurrence in Moldova. National authorities now are better prepared to cope with the problem.

1 March 2017, Chisinau, Moldova

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