This was announced by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Agriculture. Laboratory results from random samples from the contact farm are expected on Monday. “Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time,” Minister Barbara Otte-Kinast (CDU) said on Saturday at a specially convened press conference in Hanover. This is “a heavy emotional blow to pig farmers in our country.” The farm in Emsbüren had 280 sows and around 1,500 piglets. They should all be killed on Sunday. Everything is being done to contain the epidemic, said Otte-Kinast.
Swine fever in Emsland: The exclusion zone has created around 300 companies
As the region is one of the most densely populated livestock areas in the country, the ministry has created a ten-kilometer exclusion zone around the company. In addition to part of the Emsland County, this also includes the areas of Bentheim County. The transport of pigs is initially prohibited in the zone and all herds are initially regularly checked for further incidents. About 300 pig farmers out of 200,000 animals are restricted, according to the ministry. It cannot be ruled out that other animals will have to be killed just in case.
Poviats prepare orders
The counties of Emsland and Grafschaft Bentheim want to publish the relevant decrees, which should enter into force on Tuesday. This includes compulsory hog stands, a ban on the transport of pigs, and strict hygiene measures.
Halter noticed symptoms in breeding sows
According to Otte-Kinast, it is still unclear how ASF could have been introduced into the animal population. An experienced owner noticed symptoms in the breeding sows and therefore consulted the farm veterinarian. In connection with the suspicion of African swine fever, he sent samples to the State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (LAVES), which confirmed the suspicion. On Saturday morning, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI), which is responsible for animal diseases, verified the discovery.
Great uncertainty among pig farmers in the region
The outbreak shook pig farmers in the region. Many are shocked and do not know what is to come, said Georg Meiners of Emsland in Lower Saxony’s NDR. Overall, there is a lot of uncertainty. Many people now hoped it was an isolated incident – and that the virus could be contained by killing all the pigs there. In that case, all you have to do is wait a certain amount of time – and then you’ll be fine, says Meiners. But once the virus has spread, it’s hard to get the situation under control. “You really only have the option to kill the affected company – and then you hope,” We’ve stopped it, “said Meiners.
Industry hopes for vaccinations, associations to end intensive breeding
The Farmers’ Association AEF hopes that the Emsland epidemic will remain an isolated case and calls on politicians to provide a vaccine against African swine fever. On the other hand, the environmental organization Greenpeace and the animal welfare association are calling for a rethink in animal husbandry. In her opinion, the main problem lies in the high density of animals in the region. Infections cannot be controlled there.
ASF first detected in Germany in 2020.
The first case of African swine fever in Germany was confirmed on September 10, 2020 – in a wild boar in Brandenburg. Since then, outbreaks have been identified in Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony. In mid-July last year, swine fever spread to domestic pigs for the first time in this country – again in Brandenburg.
No vaccine or medicine for pigs
ASF is a contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs which is almost always fatal and incurable. So far, it is not possible to protect pigs with preventive vaccinations. The disease can be transmitted directly from animal to animal or indirectly through humans to other areas through contaminated items such as clothing, shoes and food. African swine fever is harmless to humans and other animals.
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