African swine fever hits Romania's biggest pig farm

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania has confirmed an outbreak of deadly African swine fever at the country’s largest pig breeding farm and all 140,000 animals will be culled, the national food safety authority ANSVSA’s office in the affected region said on Saturday.

The farm complex, which consists of three adjoining properties and is located in the southern county of Braila, is owned by Romanian company TEBU Consult.

“On Friday morning I sent samples to the national reference lab and tests confirmed the existence of the virus. From Monday, all pigs at the farms, or 140,000, will be culled,” DSV Braila director Gicu Dragan told state news agency Agerpres.

Dragan said the farms have used water from the nearby river Danube. The official said he had heard reports that some smallholders had been dumping the corpses of infected pigs into the Danube, suggesting the highly contagious virus might have been spread by river water.

“We’ve been focusing on mainland and the virus might have emerged from the waters,” he said.

Romania has reported hundreds of outbreaks of the disease among pigs kept in backyards and smallholdings as well as several large private farms located especially in the south of the country. About 100,000 pigs have been culled so far.

African swine fever affects pigs and wild boar and has spread in Eastern Europe in recent years. It does not affect humans.

Hungary, Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Romania are among the countries affected, alarming governments and pig farmers due the pace at which it has spread.

Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Helen Popper