African swine fever

African swine fever (ASF) has never been reported in Denmark

African swine fever is a contagious virus disease for pigs, including wild species. It does not affect humans or other animals, but the virus can be spread directly from pig to pig, through non-heat treated meat and products from affected pigs and via material which has been in contact with affected pigs (e.g. clothes, feed, and transport vehicles).

In 2014, ASF was introduced in the eastern parts of EU and since then several EU Member States have had outbreaks in wild and/or domestic pigs. The EU Member States, including Denmark, have taken great precautions in order to control and prohibit the spread of the virus.

The DVFA constantly aims to improve the surveillance programs, the veterinary contingency capabilities and information to the farmers and hunters in order to provide a prompt and effective response to every single suspected case or outbreak of a notifiable infectious livestock disease. And as the competent veterinary authority, the DVFA, takes the ASF-situation very seriously and treats it with high vigilance.

If an animal of a herd shows clinical symptoms which give rise to the suspicion of ASF, the herd will be placed under official restrictions while laboratory testing and epidemiological investigations are conducted. If a pig shows clinical symptoms of ASF, CSF is also suspected. In 2017, 13 suspected cases of ASF (or CSF) were notified to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. Official movement restrictions were imposed on the herds under suspicion while epidemiological investigation and laboratory testing were conducted. However, all samples tested free from ASF and CSF.

As a supplementary surveillance for African swine fever and classical swine fever, material from carcasses of swine, submitted for post-mortem examination for non-notifiable diseases is included in the surveillance program for African swine fever (ASF) and classical swine fever (CSF).

Carcasses are selected by laboratory staff on the basis of anamnesis, and relevant organ material is collected for the testing for ASF and CSF. If a sample tests positive, the result is immediately reported to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) as a suspected case of ASF or CSF.

On an annual basis, samples from approximately 240 carcasses of swine are tested for ASF and CSF under this program. In 2016, 287 carcasses were tested, and in 2017, 265 carcasses were tested; all tested free from ASF and CSF.

Since the outbreak of African swine fever in the Baltics back in Feb. 2014 Denmark has been monitoring the development of the spread closely. The recent developments has therefore led to a more cautious and preventive approach where we seek to minimize every possible threat.

To encapsulate the risks, Denmark has developed an action plan. The action plan consists of many measures, which together reduces the risk of African swine fever spreading to Denmark. The measures are grouped into veterinary actions and actions to eradicate wild boars in Denmark.

Veterinary actions

  • Further strengthening of the Danish veterinary disease control

  • Information regarding  biosecurity and littering of food and kitchen offal

  • Signs with information along highways - prohibition of swill feeding

  • Increased fines in relation to risk of introduction of ASF by illegal import of food from 3. Countries and by unclean transport vehicles returning from ASF affected areas.

Eradication of wild boars in Denmark

  • Intensive efforts to eradicate free-living wild boars in Denmark

  • License to hunt wild boar 24 hours a day

  • Establishment of wild boar fence along the Danish-German border to prevent the crossing of wild boars

  • Increased ASF surveillance in wild boar population – free Trichinella testing

  • Strengthening of the cooperation with the Danish hunters Association

When African swine fever occurs in domestic pigs, actions are taken according to EU Directive 2002/60/EF. The affected herd will be euthanized and restrictions will be imposed on farms in the high risk areas, defined as a 3 km zone and a 10 km zone around the outbreak.

When African swine fever occurs in wild boars, the area is subject to restrictions according to the Commissions implementing act 2014/709, which among other things consists of movement restrictions of live animals and products.

No feeding of animals with leftovers is allowed in EU Member States due to EU legislation. The DVFA has in the control system and the supervision focus on importation of illegal food and on illegal feeding of animals with leftover food.

According to EU legislation vehicles used for transport of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry in connection with trade between EU countries must be cleaned and disinfected after each transport. The driver must keep a log of the sanitary activities at all times. These procedures can be checked at slaughterhouses, assembly centers, at animal holdings or at police checks.

In addition to the EU legislation, Denmark has national legislation stating that vehicles used for transport of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats must be cleaned and disinfected after each national transport.

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council (Landbrug & Fødevarer) has chosen to supplement the EU and national legislation with the establishment of the industry code "Danish Transport Standard". All vehicles entering Denmark with the purpose of transporting pigs or cattle have to be washed and disinfected at an approved facility after crossing the border. Arriving from a high risk country, there is quarantine periods of varying length, from 12 hours and up to 7 days after the vehicle has been washed and disinfected, before it is allowed to enter a Danish farm. Control of this will be intensified after the latest development of ASF.