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African Swine Fever on the move

ASF has already spread from Georgie to Armenia and Russia (© FAO/J Spaull)
ASF has already spread from Georgie to Armenia and Russia
© FAO/J Spaull

Concerns are growing that the recent conflict between Georgia and Russia over the autonomous Georgian region of South Ossetia could exacerbate the spread of a virulent strain of African Swine Fever (ASF). The virus, which is transmitted by infected pigs, pork meat and soft ticks, was first discovered in Georgia in 2007 and is believed to have entered the country in infected meat from southwest Africa. It quickly spread into neighbouring Armenia, resulting in widespread culls, and is reported to have reached Azerbaijan and Russia.

Now, with increased movements of people displaced by the South Ossetia conflict, it is feared the disease will continue its eastward spread and may even reach as far as China. A westward spread could also affect Eastern and Central Europe. Recent reports suggest that the disease is now prevalent in wild boar populations in the Caucasus, making it much more difficult to control. ASF causes fever, skin lesions and convulsions in infected pigs and usually leads to death within two weeks. There is no vaccine, but it is not contagious to humans.

Date published: September 2008

 

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