Paris – The confirmation of two cases of African swine fever on wild boars in Belgium led Thursday the French authorities to request "an immediate mobilization to protect (the) farms" pigs, threatened by a virus against which there is no vaccine, neither treatment.
The confirmation of the presence of this virus, which affects only pigs and wild boars, on the Walloon town of Etalle, about ten kilometers from the French border, "is an unprecedented progression of the disease which requires an answer to the height of the considerable economic stakes for the French agri-food chains", wrote the Ministry of Agriculture in a statement.
Stéphane Travert, who heads the ministry, said he had called for the immediate implementation of a strengthened action plan against African swine fever (ASF) among the prefects of the Ardennes, Meuse, Moselle and Meurthe and Moselle, border departments of Belgium.
This plan provides for these four departments "zoning measures, restrictions on certain activities such as hunting and enhanced surveillance of livestock and wildlife" as well as "strengthening of biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction of the virus into pig farms and slaughterhouse surveillance measures".
The ministry recalls that "the entry of any person into a farm must be carried out only after prior authorization of the breeders and in compliance with all the hygiene and biosecurity measures required".
African swine fever, not contagious to humans, "is transmitted from one animal to another but can also be spread by movements of vehicles, people from infected areas or through foodstuffs"he said.
"The situation is taken very seriously by the various authorities and levels of power in Belgium and the measures are carefully put in place and monitored", for its part announced, the Belgian side, the Federal Agency for the safety of the food chain, in a statement.
"The Public Service of Wallonia (SPW) is preparing measures to avoid as much as possible the dispersal of wild boars from the infected zone as well as the provisions relating to hunting"continues the organization.
"The Nature and Forest Department has already strengthened vigilance and observation procedures", adds the agency, explaining that it is the measures of field intelligence that have allowed"the detection of suspected cases in some dead boars".
– Alerts launched at the end of August –
The latest contaminations in Europe could indeed "be the consequence of the introduction of leftover food left by travelers from infected areas"further east, explained the competent authorities to the Belga press agency.
The announcement of the spread of this virus at the gates of French territory comes shortly after several alerts issued by the agricultural community.
At the end of August, the president of the main French agricultural union FNSEA, Christiane Lambert, was worried about the risk of transmission on farms of African swine fever, already present in Eastern Europe, where some hunting companies import wild boar for their game farms.
In the wake, pig farmers also sounded the alarm a week ago on the risk of spread in France and Western Europe of the virus, which affects eight countries in Eastern Europe ( Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania), Russia and China.
"The situation is worrying, we are in France in a major risk zone", said the president of the National Swine Federation (FNP), Paul Auffray, during a press conference in Paris.
"We regret the inertia of the decision-making of the French and European public authorities on this subject and the lack of a European strategy to try to push back the front of the disease, whereas we alert on the risk for several years", also denounced the NPF in an internal document.