EU: ASF is an “Urgent Challenge”

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The European Union faces a serious challenge in taking on the outbreak of African Swine Fever that is threatening Bulgaria’s pig breeding industry. Reuters quotes an EU Commission spokeswoman as saying, “Fighting African Swine Fever in the EU represents an extreme and urgent challenge.” As many as ten EU nations are currently affected by ASF. However, the outbreaks are especially bad in Bulgaria and neighboring Romania. Outbreaks in Slovakia were found in July in four backyard farms. Bulgaria is one of the poorest states in the European Union and has reported more than 30 outbreaks of the disease, which is harmless to humans but incurable to pigs. Approximately 130,000 pigs have already been culled in Bulgaria. The disease first spread into the EU from Russia and Belarus. While many of the outbreaks that occurred on small farms were quickly contained, the European Food Safety Authority says it is still spreading locally among wild boar. Experts say a country like Bulgaria could eventually lose its entire pig breeding industry that totals up to 600,000 animals. Outbreaks of ASF have taken place in both the European Union and in Asia.