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African swine fever (ASF) confirmed in Georgia

Paris , 07 June 2007 – Georgia has officially notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of eleven (11) outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) in pigs. This is the first ever occurrence of this disease in this part of Europe .

Planning is underway to rapidly deploy an OIE/FAO/EC expert mission to Georgia .

ASF is generally prevalent and endemic in countries of sub-Saharan Africa . In Europe ASF remains endemic only in Sardinia ( Italy ). No reported outbreaks of ASF in other European countries have occurred since 1999 in Portugal, when it was immediately eradicated .

On May 17, 2007 Georgia first notified the OIE of several outbreaks that were first attributed to porcine circovirus that causes wasting disease in young pigs. Tests carried out on samples submitted to the OIE Reference Laboratory in Pirbright , United Kingdom confirmed the presence of African swine fever virus. The source of the infection is currently under investigation.

Classical disease control measures are being implemented by the Georgian authorities, including the culling of the infected and in contact animals and isolation of concerned properties. A total of 13,983 pigs died of the disease or were destroyed from villages and private farms were destroyed in five regions across the country. (See official report of the country to the OIE at ).

An effective and rapid control of these outbreaks is crucial in order to avoid ASF from establishing a foothold and become endemic to the region.

Emerging Transboundary Diseases

Since the bluetongue outbreak in The Netherlands in August 2006, this ASF outbreak in Georgia is the second appearance of an emerging disease for Europe in less than one year time.

African swine fever (ASF) is a serious transboundary animal disease highly lethal to pigs, with the propensity for rapid spreads.

Actions currently carried out in Georgia and supported by international cooperation are crucial for the containment of spread and eventual exclusion of this disease from the area.

The OIE continuous to highlight the importance of having effective Veterinary Services in line with international standards on quality, who are able to early detect and respond rapidly to an unexpected event such as this. Only an effective national surveillance system and the transparency in reporting can ensure appropriate control policies to be implemented.

Background information

The African swine fever virus can be spread through feeding with garbage containing infected meat. There is not yet an effective vaccine available or effective treatment against ASF.

The disease poses no danger to human health.