Food safety and veterinary officials from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, along with experts from across Europe, met this week to discuss how to improve the collection of epidemiological data on African swine fever.
“We are already collecting data, but we are not yet using them for deep epidemiological analysis,” said Ieva Rodze, from the Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment in Latvia.
Ensuring that data comply with the highest quality standards and are collected according to the same criteria is paramount. This was the main agenda item of the three-day workshop.
Delegates also exchanged ideas about the latest research in the field.
“I found it useful to learn about the most recent hypothesis on the spread of the disease, and especially on the role of wild boar carcasses – this is a major source of infection which has been underestimated so far, and it seems to be much more important than the direct contact between sick and susceptible animal,” said Krzysztof Smietanka, from the National Veterinary Research Institute in Poland.
The role of EFSA in supporting Member States was also discussed. “EFSA has similar databases, which are used for other disease analysis. They can share this experience and combine data from our four countries. They could add other countries later,” said Gediminas Pridotkas, from the National Food and Veterinary Risk Assessment Institute in Lithuania.
Regarding future steps, Arvo Viltrop, from the Estonian University of Life Science, said: “We hope to gain a better understanding of how the virus behaves – there are similarities but also a lot of differences between our four countries.”
The workshop was organised in response of the continued spread of this devastating disease across the Baltic countries.
It was one of the outcomes of a visit of EFSA’s Executive Director, Bernhard Url, to the Baltic countries in June 2015, when joint cooperation activities were agreed
African swine fever is a viral disease of pigs and wild boar that is usually deadly. It does not affect humans, but has a severe socio-economic impact in affected countries. Neither vaccines nor cures are currently available.