June 23, 2010


Russia culls pigs to prevent ASF spread



Russia has culled 17,000 pigs since the start of the year to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF), while a new outbreak of the pig killer was registered in the south, the Agriculture Ministry said.


ASF, a viral disease which is not a threat to people, has been detected in 13 localities so far this year, and the quarantine has already been lifted from eight of them, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday (June 22).


The disease is spreading rapidly, however, and may reach main pig-breeding regions in central Russia, threatening the country's pig population, which was 17.3 million heads as of the end of 2009, it said.


"We must not allow ASF to spread to regions like Belgorod, where up to 20% of all Russian pork is produced," Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik said.


Skrynnik added that it is difficult to imagine the possible damage if the disease were to spread, noting that it is measured not in hundreds of thousands but in millions and billions of roubles.


Earlier, Russian veterinary authorities have reported two new outbreaks of ASF in Rostovskaya; the first outbreak, which occurred on June 16, revealed that four swine were infected while 277 were found susceptible to the disease. The second outbreak also took place on the same date, but wild boars were affected. All the affected animals were destroyed.


Last year, swine fever was discovered even in north-western Russia close to St Petersburg, which raised questions about Russia's capacity to reach self-sufficiency in pork production.


The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said then that it feared the disease could have spread from Russia to the EU and China.