Food-hygiene service warns of swine fever becoming endemic

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African swine fever may become an endemic problem for Eastern Europe if no effective solutions are found, the Food and Veterinary Service's Director General Maris Balodis told Saeima Parliamentary Inquiry Committee Wednesday, reported LETA.

"If no solutions are found and implemented, we may expect it to become a lasting problem, possibly an endemic situation in not just Latvia, but in the entire Eastern Europe," stressed Balodis.

Latvia's wild boar population is still affected by African swine fever, and the problem is not likely to go away, said Balodis. The disease is spreading into new territories as animals infect each other.

There is a program, co-financed by the European Union, that is aimed at reducing the population of wild boars in Latvia and therefore limit the spread of African swine fever. Hunters have hunted over 10,000 wild boar sows by November 20 last year, said Balodis. The program will also continue this year. Latvia has allocated EUR 1.6 million for the program in 2016, added Balodis.

The Food and Veterinary Service checks farms in areas affected by African swine fever at least twice a year, and all other farms that keep pigs - at least once a year. Last year, African swine fever was ascertained at ten small farms.

According to the State Forest Service's data, there are more than 70,000 wild boars living in Latvia.

In total, 1,048 wild boars infected with African swine fever were found last year.

Since the first African swine fever case was registered in Latvia in June 2014, a total of 213 domestic pigs were found to have the disease in Rezekne, Mazsalaca, Ainazi, Staicele,Ambeli and Vecsaliena regions. A total of 14,000 pigs had to be destroyed for biosafety reasons, and the owners of these pigs were paid EUR 2.322 million in compensation.

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