Germany concerned about swine fever cases in nearby Poland

FILE PHOTO: Pigs are seen in a piggery at a village near Warsaw April 10, 2014. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Germany’s government said on Friday it is concerned about the spread of the pig disease African swine fever (ASF) in wild boars in Poland close to the German border.

Poland recorded 55 outbreaks of ASF in wild boars in December, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said on Thursday. The disease was found only 30 kilometres (20 miles) from Germany, one of Europe’s major pork exporters.

ASF is harmless to humans but often deadly in pigs. It originated in Africa before spreading to Europe and Asia and has already killed hundreds of millions of pigs, while reshaping global meat and feed markets.

Asian countries including China regularly impose import bans on pork from regions where ASF has been discovered, causing huge loss of business for meat exporters. Wild boars are spreading the disease and their meat is popular in Europe.

“We are observing the latest proof of African swine fever relatively close to the German border with great concern,” German junior agriculture minister Uwe Feiler said in a statement. “Up to now the joint federal and state efforts have stopped the disease from entering Germany. But we cannot relax.”

There was no immediate comment from Poland.

Feiler said efforts must be intensified to prevent the disease spreading to Germany and it would support Poland in its efforts to stop the disease spreading.

There have been fears in Germany that its major exports of pork to China and other Asian regions could be threatened if ASF arrives in the country.

German regional governments have started building fences along the Polish border in an attempt to stop infected wild boar roaming into Germany.

Reporting by Michael Hogan; Editing by Mark Heinrich