BRUSSELS, June 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- On 18 May, the European Commission ratified Belgium's proposal to reduce the ASF-infected zone in the province of Luxemburg. This zone, in which African Swine Fever was only detected in wild boar, was successfully installed by Belgian authorities to prevent the contamination of domestic pigs. "The reduction of the zone is a positive signal towards countries that have suspended the import of Belgian pork," says Denis Ducarme, Minister of Agriculture.
Immediately after the detection of African Swine Fever in two wild boards, on 13 September 2018, The FASFC (Belgium's Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain) demarcated an "infected zone", in consultation with the European Commission and ministers. The few domestic pigs in this zone were preventively eradicated between 27 September and 3 October 2018. The products of these pigs did not enter the food chain and were not used in the feed industry.
Recognition of proven effectiveness
Within the infected zone, a series of control measures were quickly put in place:
- 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.
The measures have proven effective to keep ASF inside the affected zone. The last ASF-positive test of a dead boar within the zone goes back to 11 August 2019. So, just over one year after ASF was first detected in Belgium, the measures have stopped the spread of the disease. This observation is backed by the latest controls, in April 2020, showing no sign of infections.
Reduction of the infected zone
Belgium therefore proposed to reduce the demarcated zone. This proposal now is ratified by the European Commission.
The reduction (shaded) concerns a part of the "infected zone" (zone II) within the "buffer zone" (zone I), a zone in which no infected animals have been detected since 17 February 2019.
Promising export perspectives
Ever since the first wild boar tested ASF-positive, Belgium has succeeded in keeping domestic pigs and captive wild pigs free of ASF contamination. If no infected boars are detected, Belgium could regain its ASF-free status for all porcine animals by the end of 2020. Denis Ducarme, Minister of Agriculture: "We must remain vigilant to give back our country its ASF-free status. This would lead to the abolishment of the last embargoes on the export of our pork."
All this time, Belgian pork remained virus-free and suitable for consumption and export. Therefore, trade of Belgian pork was free in the European Union. However, some third countries suspended the import of Belgian pork. The ratification by the European Commission is an important step towards the re-opening of these markets.
For all latest details on the measures taken and on the current situation in Belgium: www.fasfc.be/outbreaks-african-swine-fever
About Belgian Meat Office
Belgian Meat Office coordinates pork and beef export activities. The meat export agency was founded in 2003 under the Flemish Centre for Agricultural and Fisheries Marketing (VLAM) umbrella.
Joris Coenen, Marketing & Communication Officer Belgian Meat Office
SOURCE VLAM / Belgian Meat Office