As African swine fever spreads, European countries are afraid of the damage that could be caused to their farming sectors.
The deadly disease – that causes internal bleeding and hemorrhages in pigs – is moving quickly through Eastern Europe, typically through wild boar, that travel long distances and can infect domestic pigs being bred on commercial farms.
In response, countries like Germany, the EU’s largest pork producer, are stepping up efforts to protect their pig populations, some going so far as to consider building border walls to keep boars out.
At the same time Denmark has approved plans for a fence along its border with Germany to stop wild boar movements between the countries as a precaution.
So far outbreaks of African swine fever have been confirmed in 9 EU countries, affecting Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania the worst. Outbreaks have also been confirmed in Russia, Ukraine and Moldova.
The virus first entered Eurasia in 2007 in Georgia via wild boar imported from Africa.
The 1st outbreak in Georgia in 2007 was a full disaster. It fully destroyed pork production and led to a broad contamination.
After Georgia, the virus spread to Russia, Moldova and Belarus and, in 2014, entered the EU via Poland and the Baltic states.
At the EU level, Brussels has allocated €1.2 million to member countries to prevent the spread of swine fever.
The EU also issued a research grant in 2018 for the development of an African swine fever vaccine in its Horizon 2020 program, the biggest EU research and innovation program.