African swine fever (ASF) has been confirmed in four wild boar in Belgium, according to the National Pig Association (NPA).
NPA CEO Zoe Davies said there is concern as this was “a big jump geographically for the virus”, and added it brings ASF closer to the UK and highlights how the virus can be moved long distances to reach new pig populations.
Davies said: “ Our approach [to the situation] is 3-pronged. The first is messaging all pigkeepers to ensure they are doing all they can to keep the disease out, for example, biosecurity on farm, being aware of any visitors that might have been to infected areas and, of course, reinforcing the message about not feeding food waste or any pork products to pigs.
“We are also urging producers to prepared for the worst and think about contingency planning, if the virus does make it here, which will result in movement bans and other restrictions.”
She added: “Thirdly, we are continuing to put pressure on Defra/APHA to manage the risks better and work with UK Border Force to increase messaging at entry points to the UK, mainly ports and airports.
“Our focus is on making sure we do absolutely everything we can to keep the virus out – the consequences of ASF reaching our pig herd are enormous, but it will only take one mistake to let it in.”
The group is also working with Defra/APHA to increase messaging to public about not feeding feral/outdoor pigs or leaving rubbish anywhere near where they may be active, and also warn people coming to the UK from elsewhere about the risks of bringing in meat products.