Epidemiology of ASF in eastern EU
EFSA assisted four countries in the analysis of epidemiological data on African swine fever (ASF), collected until September 2017. The temporal analysis demonstrated that the average proportions of PCR and antibody-ELISA positive samples from the hunted wild boar remained below 3.9 and 6.6, respectively. A peak in the ASF incidence was observed 6 months after the first observed case, followed by a significant reduction of the number of cases and low levels of African swine fever virus (ASFV) circulation at the end of 38 months follow-up period at different spatial resolutions. The spatial analysis concluded that human-mediated spread of ASFV continues to play a critical role in the ASF epidemiology, despite all measures currently taken. ‘Wild boar density’, ‘total road length’ (as proxy for human activity) and ‘average suitable wild boar habitat availability’ were identified as predictors for the occurrence of ASF in Estonia by a Bayesian hierarchical model, whereas ‘wild boar density’ and ‘density of pig farms’ were predictors according to a generalised additive model. To evaluate the preventive strategies proposed in EFSA’s Scientific Opinion (2015) to stop the spread of ASFV in the wild boar population, a simulation model, building on expert knowledge and literature was used. It was concluded that reduction of wild boar population and carcass removal to stop the spread of ASFV in the wild boar population are more effective when applied preventively in the infected area. Drastic depopulation, targeted hunting of female wild boar and carcass removal solely implemented as measures to control ASF in the wild boar population need to be implemented in a highly effective manner (at or beyond the limit of reported effectivity in wild boar management) to sustainably halt the spread of ASF.