Germany’s agriculture minister on Thursday confirmed a wild boar found in the eastern state of Brandenburg tested positive for deadly African swine fever, raising fears of import bans being imposed by China and other markets outside the European Union.
The case was the first recorded in Germany. The disease is lethal to pigs but does not affect humans, even if contaminated meat is consumed. Some 450 Polish pig farms were placed in lockdown earlier this year because of an outbreak.
There is no treatment or vaccination for African swine fever.
German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner said authorities have long feared the emergence of the disease in Germany, and the National Animal Diseases Crisis Unit had been activated.
Kloeckner said German pork production will continue as normal.
Joachim Rukwied, the head of the German Farmers Association, demanded action.
“We demand that politicians and authorities do everything to contain the epidemic and push it out of Germany,” Rukwied said. “We absolutely need to have a wild boar-free zone along the Polish border.”
Hungary and Poland have reported more than 3,000 cases of African swine fever this year. Countries that import pork tend to place bans on meat from areas affected by African swine fever even if the disease is detected only in wild boars. Germany shipped more than 73,000 tons of pork to China in May 2019. Shipments had been expected to be higher this year, the U.K. Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board estimated in February.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported mortality rates can be as high as 100% and the virus can be transmitted easily through entire herds of pigs.
In 2019, the Chinese government reported a 40% drop in swine inventory, along with a 30% decrease in pork output due to the swine fever, the USDA reported.
The Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida, said swine fever has been eradicated from the U.S. A potential resurgence, however, is still possible.