University of Life Sciences researchers are working out how African swine fever infected pigs at a farm in Polva County. Over 9,000 animals must now be slaughtered to stop the spread of the virus.
Officials and researchers were working in Lutsu village, which has a population of 60, on Thursday. They hope to understand how swing flu entered the farm and provide answers in the next few days.
The Agriculture and Food Board (Põllumajandus- ja toiduamet/ PTA) said the farm complied with all biosecurity requirements.
"The last inspection we had on the farm was done in March and then everything met the requirements," Inge Saavo, head of PTA's southern region, told Thursday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".
One theory is the virus was spread by wild animals.
Saavo said the number of infected wild boars in the region has risen recently and the virus is spreading across southeastern Estonia.
"The number of cases of swine fever in forests has increased recently. In Põlva County, 18 cases of African swine fever have been recorded this year and the latest report is from July 25, when a boar was killed in the village of Ahja and tested positive," she said.
Other pig farmers in the area now have to follow more biosecurity requirements, she said.
Preliminary work for the killing and transportation of the pigs started on Thursday, and the process will likely be completed by next Wednesday.
Nine employees work at Lutsu pig farm but they do not fear losing their jobs as HKScan, which owns the Rakvere Farmid subsidiary running the facility, has 100,000 pigs and plans to continue work when possible.
"We are planning to bring pigs back to the farm as soon as possible. We are the largest pig farmer in Estonia with Rakvere Farmid and we have bred our own piglets, so we are able to supply the farm with piglets ourselves," said Markus Kirsberg, CEO of HKScan Baltics.
He believes neither pork prices nor the availability of meat will be affected.
"We may experience more stressful moments in production, but we can promise that this will not significantly affect availability. This event in itself will not affect prices either. However, prices will be set against world market prices and the actions of competitors," said Kirsberg
Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera