Luxembourg's Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, Romain Schneider, participated in the ministerial conference organised by the European Commission on African swine fever in Europe on Wednesday 19 December 2018 in Brussels, at which European ministers had an exchange of views on the European Commission's communication entitled "Eradication of African swine fever and management of the wild boar population in the long term".
Prevention - control - eradication
Prevention - control - eradication are the watchwords of the European Commission in the fight against African swine fever (ASF). The Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, called on Member States to make it a top priority given the huge risk this animal health scourge poses to the agricultural sector.
It is recommended that Member States strengthen cooperation and coordination between the different actors involved. The European Commission is also calling for a long-term management strategy for the wild boar population that requires drastic reduction.
Minister Romain Schneider supported these proposals while underlining that these measures are advocated at the national level. In this context, the Minister reminded us that as a non-infected country, we are very vigilant and our preventive phase has been intensified since the discovery in mid-September of the first case of PPA in a boar in the Province of Luxembourg a few tens of kilometres from our border (in Belgium).
National level: Task Force with stakeholders
Minister Schneider also said that at the national level, a PPA Task Force was set up at the beginning of the year to bring together not only the Ministries of Agriculture and the Environment and their administrations, but also all stakeholders affected by this disease such as the hog sector, hunters, transporters, slaughterhouses and other actors in the pigmeat industry, animal feed companies and representatives of forest owners. This Task Force met for the first time in February and its work has intensified since September.
At these briefings, slogans were a significant reduction in the wild boar population and the intensification of biosecurity at the hog farm level.
In this exchange of views, Minister Schneider emphasised the excellent collaboration between the Luxembourg authorities and the competent European, Belgian and French authorities with the aim of stopping the spread of the virus through concerted actions.
Non-contagious virus for humans
Minister Schneider pointed out that to date no case of African swine fever on wild boars has been detected in the Grand Duchy. The Minister also recalled that the ASF virus affects domestic boars and pigs but poses no risk to humans even if they eat contaminated meat or meat products.
The virus spreads directly through contact between animals as well as indirectly via food waste containing pork. Therefore, they should be removed so that any contact with a boar or pork is avoided.
As there is currently no vaccine against this disease and introduction of the virus into the pig population would have significant economic consequences for the sector, it is essential to remain vigilant in order to minimise an extension of the disease in the population of wild boars and the risk of introduction of the virus into pigs through enhanced biosecurity measures.
To this end, the network of sanitary vigilance remains in place and each discovery of a boar corpse without obvious cause of death can be reported at the tel: 402201-666 (Administration of Nature and Forests).