Swine fever traces found in Belarus sausages

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To date, the country of Belarus has not officially reported a single case of African swine fever (ASF) in its territory. Meanwhile, Latvia’s state Food and Veterinary Service (PVD) inspectors seized meat products imported from Belarus at the border for testing, after which Food Safety and Research Institute BIOR labs determined that the ASF virus was present in the processed meat products.

Although there are no conclusive results confirming that contaminated processed pork sausage meats could carry the disease, the news has prompted Latvia’s veterinary health and food safety authorities to strengthen their controls on the flow of meat products from Belarus and Russia into the country.

Every month customs officers at the Silene border crossing confiscate up to 800 kilograms of meat products being brought in illegally from Belarus. Samples of the seized sausages revealed a sickening scene.

“Six out of twenty samples showed the presence of the DNA of the ASF virus, that means the pigs were sick,” PVD southern Latgale regional department senior inspector Dzintars Juškus drew the conclusion.

Silene Border Guard chief post supervisor Jānis Dievapēds pointed out that “people are just bringing the stuff along to eat on the road. Of course this is an incredible risk, because the packaging gets tossed out on the roadside, into the ditches, and if it’s infected then the forest animals spread it.”

Juškus recalled inspectors’ experience in the summertime, when the ASF outbreak first hit the border region of Latgale by Belarus. “In many homesteads one of the ways for bringing the infection into their barns was the fact that people travel regularly to Belarus, and most likely bring some pork snack back with them. And it’s possible some of that got into the feed of the domestic pigs,” the PVD inspector conjectured.

While there have been no further confirmations of ASF among domestic pigs since the end of August, just this week three additional wild boar carcasses found in Dagda district’s Asūne parish were found to have died of the deadly disease.

As long as Belarus records no official cases of ASF, thereby acknowledging the existence of the problem in the first place, there is no mechanism of bilateral cooperation amongst the responsible authorities.

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