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Close to 15,000 pigs killed as African swine fever ravages Estonian farms

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Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The total number of pigs put to death in Estonia since first cases of African swine fever were diagnosed on July 21 is now getting close to 15,000. The country already struggles to get rid of hundreds of tons of carcasses and the death toll is expected to rise still.

Two more farms were found to be affected on Wednesday, in Võru and Viljandi counties, sending 4,700 pigs to death. The disease has been discovered in 12 farms so far.

The 6,500 dead pigs in Puurmani, with a total mass of 300 tons, are too many for disposal with sufficient speed. The disease control center has therefore decided to bury 200 tons of animal waste in a nearby landfill in Torma local municipality.

The decision was met with criticism from the local councils, but the Environmental Board said it is the least worst option.

Although the disease does not pose a threat to humans, the meat of infected animals will not be sold due to fears of further spreading the disease.

African swine fever is a highly contagious and fatal disease of domestic and feral pigs (including wild boar) transmitted through direct and indirect contacts, ingestion of contaminated feed-stuffs and by certain tick vector species. It is considered one of the most dangerous diseases of pigs, with a mortality rate close to 100 percent and no vaccine or drugs currently available for either cure or prevention.

Increased safety measures have been put into place to curb the spread of the disease. The European Commission recently set the toughest, zone 3 restrictions for areas infected with the African swine fever in Estonia. Pork from this zone can be sold, but must be processed and marketed at special conditions.

Red marks zone 3, pink zone 2 and blue zone 1 (Source: VTA/Twitter

Estonia currently has around 900 pig farms and 370,000 pigs. The Veterinary and Food Board has committed to checking each farm to make sure the disease control measures have been implemented.

Editor: M. Oll, S. Tambur

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