August 5, 2019
Steep rise in ASF outbreaks seen in Eastern Europe this summer
Romania has seen the greatest jump in reported African swine fever (ASF) cases with about 300 new outbreaks reported in July, up from just about 80 in June, the Financial Times reported.
Also in July, Bulgaria had stepped up culling after 18 cases were diagnosed, while Slovakia reported its first case of the disease near the Hungarian border.
The European Commission had said the fight against ASF was an "extreme and urgent challenge" because of the threat it posed to the continent's swine herds.
The virus has not yet spread to Europe's top producers, including Germany, France and the Netherlands.
Romania's ASF outbreak situation is "an unfortunate mixture of politics, disorganisation and inefficiency," said Ioan Ladosi, president of the Romanian Association of Pork Producers, which represents producers of more than 80% of the country's herd.
Ladosi added that the government had "failed to implement in full" the recommendations made in EU audits over the past 12 months "for a simple reason: politics and votes" as politicians feared angering small farmers.
Romania's swine industry includes about 250 commercial producers, but more than half of the country's herd is raised by backyard farmers.
In July, Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU health and food safety commissioner, urged member states to be extremely vigilant during the summer months, when incidents of the disease tend to peak.