African Swine Fever confirmed in Germany

25 Sep 2020

Earlier this month, German officials confirmed African Swine Fever (ASF) has arrived in Germany. As Europe’s largest pork producer, analysts anticipate that the spread of this disease within the country's pork populations will lead to depressed pork prices and disruption of the EU market.

German agriculture minister Julia Klöckner confirmed the first case earlier this month, saying the malady was detected in the cadaver of a wild board on the German border with Poland.

African Swine Fever confirmed in Germany

Farmers are now bracing for a ban on German pork exports from other countries looking to prevent the spread of the highly-contagious illness into their own domestic pig industries. Already, South Korea has moved to ban German pork, Food Navigator reported, and other countries like Japan, the Philippines and China may follow suit.

China is one of Germany’s largest importers and the trade relationship with them is worth billions of euros. If exported German pork products are banned, it could have devastating economic consequences not just for Germany but also for the EU as a whole since the market will be flooded with German product and cause prices to fall sharply.

Although the disease does not pose a danger for humans, it does usually kill the pigs and wild boars that it infects. Currently, there is no vaccine against the disease and so farmers in regions where ASF has taken hold are forced to cull large portions of domestic pig herds in an effort to stop the disease in its tracks.

No decision has been made by the German government as to whether domestic pig populations will need to be slaughtered to contain the disease.

The arrival of ASF in Germany was a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ for the government. Since 2014, the illness has been a growing problem in next-door Poland as well as Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland or the Czech Republic. To halt the spread of the disease, the German parliament has considered erecting a fence along the Polish border, but that was never pushed through by national lawmakers. Instead, The Guardian reported that authorities in Brandenburg, where the infected wild boar was found, constructed a 120km-long electric pasture fence to deter more, potentially-infected boars from crossing the border. Klöckner also put forth a series of preventative measures, including wild boar management through culling to preserve domestic pig populations.

Meat products are also banned from Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland or the Czech Republic. Raw meat delicacies such as dry-cured ham and salami are a major source of infection as the disease can spread through disposed of scraps in refuse bins that are scavenged by wild boar populations.

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