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Epidemiological analyses of African swine fever in the European Union (November 2018 to October 2019)

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This report provides an update of the epidemiology of African swine fever (ASF) in the European Union during the period November 2018 to October 2019. In this period, ASF has been confirmed in Slovakia, whereas Czechia became officially ASF‐free in March 2019, bringing the number of affected countries in the EU to nine. The report provides a narrative update of the situation in the different countries and an analysis of the temporal and spatial patterns of the disease. There has been no increase in the proportion of seropositive hunted wild boar in the affected areas. In hunted animals, the proportions of wild boar testing polymerase chain reaction‐positive and enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assay‐positive has remained low (< 0.05). In addition to the obvious seasonal peak in summer in domestic pigs, seasonality of ASF in wild boar was statistically confirmed. A network analysis demonstrated that the median velocity of the natural propagation of the disease in wild boar populations was between 2.9 and 11.7 km/year. Human‐mediated spread, both in pigs and wild boar, however, remains important. Several wild boar‐ and domestic pig‐related risk factors for ASF occurrence in non‐commercial farms in Romania were identified with a case–control study. This report also updates an extensive literature review on control measures to stop the spread of the disease in wild boar and on measures to separate wild boar populations. Several new studies have been identified in this reporting period, but these did not alter the conclusions of the previous reporting period. Field experience with the use of fences as part of the control strategy deployed in the Belgian focal outbreak of ASF in wild boar is described. So far, the measures have proven effective to keep ASF virus inside the affected area. This strategy included a combination of different measures, namely zoning, carcass removal, a complete feeding ban, specific hunting regulations and depopulation actions depending on the zone, a partial ban of people and logging, and setting up a network of concentric fences.