Food and Veterinary Service warns of swine fever outbreaks

The next waves of the African swine fever (ASF) could increase in strength and intensity. It's expected that in spring the disease will start spreading at a much quicker pace, Māris Balodis, the head of the Food and Veterinary Service (PVD) told Latvian Radio Monday.

"The situation does not look good for us," Balodis said, saying that wild boar can, for example, cross the Daugava river this winter as the river has frozen over. Up until now wild boar had trouble getting to the other side of the river, which acted as a sort of a protective barrier.

If the disease gets to Kurzeme, the number of cases could increase dramatically as the wild boar population is much larger there. 

However Balodis said that these are only scientist's forecasts, and the PVD maintains that it's difficult to foresee the spread of the disease.

He also called for hunters to shoot wild boar as "what we don't hunt now we'll have to bury afterwards."

The PVD has found 28 new cases of the disease among wild boars in Latvia between January 1 and January 8, according to BNS.

African swine fever is an extremely dangerous and contagious virus infection affecting pigs. If an infected pig is found in a farm, all have to be culled, spelling big losses for farmers.

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