Last summer saw the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) launch a major campaign to raise awareness of the disease in south-east Europe. That initiative, it said, as carried out in partnership with local authorities in countries comprising a “region of concern” — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia — due to their proximity to countries where ASF is present.
EFSA is now extending the campaign – aimed primarily at farmers – to Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Estonia, Hungary and Romania.
Nikolaus Kriz, head of EFSA’s animal and plant health unit, said: “As a scientific organization we are working tirelessly to produce assessments and make recommendations that can help countries threatened by African swine fever to protect their animals and their economies.
“Last year we decided to take our science out into the field and show that EFSA is committed to helping farmers and others who are living in the shadow of this terrible disease. The campaign was well received in the first wave of countries and now we are going further afield with our message to detect, prevent and report.”
The campaign complements the ongoing efforts of the European Commission and other international organizations aimed at eradicating the disease in Europe, said the Parma-based risk assessor.
The virus, it said, has caused significant economic disruption in many countries. "There are no vaccines, so an outbreak can necessitate the slaughter of large numbers of farm-kept pigs in affected areas."
Objectives and audiences
The authority said the campaign aims to raise awareness and understanding of ASF in all 18 countries and is aimed at groups of people and individuals who come into contact with domestic pigs and wild boar, particularly pig farmers.
It is being implemented with the assistance of local veterinary organizations, farmers’ groups, hunting associations, border police, and other relevant bodies.
“We will be sharing factsheets, infographics, ready-to-use social media posts and other materials.”
Because an ASF outbreak can have such devastating effects, detection, prevention and reporting are essential if this disease is to be contained, said EFSA.