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African Swine Fever Hits Europe After Multiple China Outbreaks

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The African swine fever virus reaches Europe after devastating thousands of pigs in China this month. It now affects the second largest farm in Europe with over 130,000 pigs expected to be killed.

What could have caused the outbreak?

4 African Swine Virus Outbreaks In China

Just last Thursday, China officials confirmed an African swine fever outbreak in Wenzhou with 430 ill pigs, 340 of which already died. This is actually the fourth outbreak in the country this month after earlier outbreaks in three different locations where thousands of pigs have already been culled or killed to prevent the spread of the disease.

So far, authorities state the situation is already under control with quarantine zones for the infected pigs already established, where the infected pigs are culled while the others are disinfected.

Virus Reaches Europe

Just days after the announcement of China’s fourth outbreak for the month, on Saturday, Romania confirmed an African swine fever outbreak at the country’s largest pig breeding farm, TEBU Consult. The said farm in Braila is also Europe’s second largest pig farm with over 130,000 pigs.

The initial suspicion is that the animals caught the virus from the Danube river as the farm gets its water supply from the river. There have been reports of smaller farms dumping infected pigs onto the river.

The outbreak is not exactly new, as Romania has reported hundreds of outbreaks of the virus among pigs in smaller farms and in backyards, as well as in several large farms as well. However, according to Gicu Dragan of the Bucharest Diagnostic and Animal Health Institute, they have been focusing more on the mainland, but the new large-scale outbreak at TEBU Consult might have emerged from the water supply.

As a result, the animals at TEBU Consult are expected to be culled.

African Swine Fever

African swine fever is a viral disease among pigs that is usually deadly and there is no vaccine or cure for the virus. It can be transmitted from one pig or boar to another via contact with infected creatures, ingestion of infected meat, bites from infected ticks, or contact with contaminated surfaces such as clothing and equipment.

The most common means of spreading the disease is said to be a movement among the infected animals, contaminated pork products, and the illegal disposal of the carcasses of infected animals.

The disease is native to sub-Saharan Africa, and also endemic in Sardinia for several decades already. So far, other European nations that have reported outbreaks of the virus include Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, and Estonia were also affected by the disease in 2014.

It is also worth noting that the virus affects pigs and wild boars, and humans are not susceptible to the disease.

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