In the beginning, was the warthog. It had been infected by the liver tick with a virus that quickly caught it. Warthogs and liver ticks are only found in Africa, while African swine fever is also found in Europe. The disease has long since spread across the Middle East, the Caucasus and Russia to Eastern European countries such as the Baltic states of Poland, Romania, and Hungary, where it mainly infects wild boars, but also pet populations. Farmers in the district of Munich are also alarmed.
What to do if African swine fever comes to Bavaria? Farmers addressed this issue at an information event organized by the Farmers’ Association in Arget on Tuesday. It became clear during the three-hour exchange with representatives of the association and the veterinary office: African swine fever is not fun, it threatens the breeding and fattening populations. If the infected wild game is found, drastic measures to control the disease, such as exclusion zones, apply.
Whether a dead pig actually died from the virus from Africa cannot be said at first glance, explained the head of the unit from the district office, Johann Marx, in Arget. “You don’t look at it to the animal.” The lethality rate is very high: 90 percent of the pigs that catch the virus die from it.
Symptoms such as high fever, denial of food, dullness, conjunctivitis and the formation of red sprinkles are described, among other things. African swine fever is difficult to distinguish from classical swine fever or other serious diseases. It is transmitted through direct contact with infected animals, but also through the intake of catering waste or pork production.
There is no danger to humans. “Man does not suffer from it,” says Marx. For him, the virus is harmless, nor does it infest other mammals, but only pigs. However, it is assumed that the disease has spread mainly by people who have been in spread areas and have brought infected meat from there, such as sausage rolls thrown into the bushes on trunk roads and thrown by wild boars. were eaten. “The virus remains viable in nature for 200 days,” explained Andreas Tyroller of the Bavarian Farmers’ Association in Arget. There is no vaccination.
Pig farming is rare in the district of Munich. Only one of the 62 holdings belongs to the larger ones with more than 150 breeding sows and 700 fattening pigs, a handful is considered medium, most as smallholdings with up to three breeding sows and 20 fattening pigs. All of them are covered by the Pig Farming Hygiene Ordinance, which contains rules for cleaning, disinfection, and prophylaxis in order to keep pathogens out of the barn. “You have to know who is allowed in the stable,” says Marx of the Veterinary Office. Cat and dogs, for example, would have to stay outside, even hunters should not enter the pigsty. “This is the best way for a virus,” warns the veterinary surgeon.
The increasing stock of black deer is seen as problematic. A virus does not reduce this, the number of wild boars must be reduced by hunting. Tyroller appealed to the farmers present as landowners with hunting rights to take action. “You are responsible for this,” he said.
If a case of African swine fever occurs, a “core zone” within a radius of about four kilometers around the find is first determined and fenced. This would be about an area the size of the municipality of Aying. Within a radius of about 15 kilometers, an “endangered area” would be defined, about the size of Munich and the district combined, and within a radius of 45 kilometers a “buffer zone”.