FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Kosovo prepares for diagnosis of African swine fever

Since “escaping” from Africa and into Georgia back in 2007, African swine fever (ASF) has spread throughout vast areas of Europe and Asia. The Balkans are at immediate risk, with outbreaks already reported in Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia. A key component for early response is to detect incursions and have them confirmed (or denied) in the laboratory as soon as possible.

In order to support Kosovo’s preparedness, laboratory diagnosticians from the National Reference Laboratory in Kosovo* took part in an ASF training course on 25–29 November 2019. The event was held through the FAO reference laboratory for ASF in Madrid, Spain, located at the Center for Animal Health Research (CISA) of the National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA).

The training began with an overview on the main aspects of the disease before discussing diagnosis, with special attention given to implementing the World Organisation of Animal Health’s recommended serological and virological techniques during laboratory activities. A hands-on diagnostic simulation using suspicious samples followed, with emphasis on virus detection techniques. Biosafety aspects were also discussed.

During the closing session, a set of practical information was provided to the participants, including copies of lectures, laboratory practice results, and Standard Operating Procedures, as well as bibliography and relevant legislation.

In addition, ASF reference standards, reference material and standardized protocols for the implementation, validation and internal verification of official ASF serological and virological diagnostic methods were handed to Kosovo.

These activities were conducted as part of a larger FAO project to increase the Kosovo’s preparedness against ASF through assessment missions, training, and awareness for veterinarians and hunters, in addition to testing that preparedness through simulation exercises.

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

20 February 2020, Madrid, Spain