Germany finds two more African swine fever cases in wild boar

FILE PHOTO: The town sign of Gross Drewitz is seen with a note reading "African swine fever in wild pigs, key area", Gross Drewitz, Spree-Neisse, Germany September 12, 2020. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse/File Photo

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Two more cases of African swine fever (ASF) have been confirmed in wild boars in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, the federal agriculture ministry said on Thursday.

The new discoveries bring the total number of confirmed cases to 40 since the first one on Sept. 10. All were in wild animals, with no farm pigs affected, the ministry said.

The latest cases, confirmed by Germany’s Friedrich-Loeffler scientific institute, were found in the area of the first discoveries, the ministry said. A case was also found on Wednesday in a new area about 60 kilometres away from the first.

The ministry has previously warned that more cases in wild boar are to be expected as the disease is highly infectious.

China and a series of other buyers banned imports of German pork in September after the first case was confirmed, causing Chinese pork prices to surge.

The disease is not dangerous to humans but it is fatal to pigs and a massive outbreak in China, the world’s biggest pork producer, and elsewhere in Asia led to massive changes in global pork trade flows.

The state government of Brandenburg said separately it was searching intensively for dead wild boars in both areas where the disease has been confirmed, with teams working in fields and woods and aircraft drones also being used to assess the extent of the disease’s spread.

Examination of some remains of the first dead wild boar show that the animal probably died from the disease eight to ten weeks ago, so ASF probably entered Germany in the first half of July, the state said.

German pig prices remain unchanged since falling sharply on Sept. 11 on hopes that Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark and other EU countries will increase pork sales to China and elsewhere in Asia to compensate for lost German supplies, leaving market demand inside the EU which Germany can meet.

Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Kirsten Donovan and Mark Potter