The African Swine Fever (PPA) Task Force met for the fifth time on Thursday at Luxembourg’s Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development.
The purpose of this fifth meeting was to assess the evolution of the situation of the disease as the hunting season approaches (opening on Saturday 12 October 2019).
To date, the State Veterinary Medicine Laboratory (LMVE) has tested 298 wild boars, all of which came back negative for African Swine Fever.
In addition to confirming the continued absence of the disease on Luxembourgish territory, the meeting brought together representatives of the concerned ministries and administrations for a constructive exchange, in the presence of all potentially affected stakeholders. Among them were hunters, veterinary practitioners, slaughterhouses and other actors from the pig meat industry, animal feed firms and representatives of forest owners.
On this occasion, Luxembourg’s Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, Romain Schneider, emphasised the need for all parties involved to continue to work hand in hand to prevent a spread of the virus beyond the Belgian border into the Grand Duchy. In this context, the authorities have appealed to hunters to continue to help reduce the wild boar population throughout the country and more specifically in the white zone, where the total depopulation of wild boar is envisaged. Indeed, the public is reminded that it is forbidden to deliberately disturb the smooth running of the hunt in any way whatsoever.
In addition, the Fédération St.-Hubert des Chasseurs du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg (FSHCL) has expressed the desire to support surveillance during the hunt and to report any wild boar bodies to the Nature and Forest Administration.
To date, seventeen wild boars have been slaughtered within the white zone. The Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development will also continue to pay a health allowance of €100 for each boar shot in this area. At the same time, the two boar traps installed in early September inside the white zone remain in place.
Moreover, whilst the last case of wild boar carrying the swine fever virus in Wallonia dates back to 11 August 2018, the authorities cannot say for certain that the virus has been definitively eradicated in Belgium one year after the detection of the last case. As such, the Belgian and the Luxembourgish authorities must remain vigilant on both the sides of the border. Indeed, the Luxembourg authorities have maintained contact with the competent Belgian and French authorities as well as with the European Commission in order to have a permanent exchange to control the situation and stop the spread of the virus through concerted actions.
In addition to the 10 km fence along the Belgian border and the Luxembourgish municipalities of Käerjeng, Pétange and Steinfort, Minister Schneider had requested the study and planning of a route for the installation of an additional fence along the Belgian-Luxembourg border heading north. During the summer months, this route was closed and the concerned owners contacted.
Moreover, the authorities reiterated an urgent appeal to hunters and keepers of boar to strictly comply with biosecurity rules.
Finally, Romain Schneider recalled that the virus only affects domestic boars and pigs and poses no risk to other animals or to humans even if they eat contaminated meat or meat products.