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Defra increases risk level for ASF
Veterinary surgeons and farmers in the UK are urged to remind themselves of the clinical signs of ASF.
Vets ‘should remind themselves of the clinical signs’

The UK’s risk status for African swine fever has been raised from ‘very low’ to ‘low’, after the first outbreak in Romania and continuing cases in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Defra described these outbreaks as ‘concerning’ because they suggest ‘a spread in geographic distribution, a possible drop in biosecurity awareness and therefore an increase in the weight of infection in East Europe’.

There have been no recent consignments of live pigs from the Czech Republic or Romania to the UK, and the UK only imports a very small amount of pig products from these countries. However, Defra said there could be ‘substantial’ movement of people, vehicles and personal imports of pork products, which is why the UK’s risk level has been increased.

Veterinary surgeons and farmers in the UK are urged to remind themselves of the clinical signs of ASF, which may not be immediately obvious. Some disease reports suggest this virus appears to have reduced pathogenicity.

Pig keepers must ensure that pigs are not fed catering waste, kitchen scraps or pork products in general, which is illegal. Any clinical signs should be reported promptly to a veterinary surgeon and anybody returning from the affected EU member states is advised to avoid contact with pigs and wild boar until they are sure they have no contaminated clothing, footwear or equipment.

Romania reported its first ASF outbreak this week, on a small backyard farm containing four pigs. The outbreak occurred in Satu-Mare, Northern Romania, along the border with the Ukraine. A second outbreak was confirmed on a contact farm of three pigs on 1 August. Romanian authorities have said a possible source of infection is imported meat products from the Ukraine, but further epidemiological studies will be carried out.

There have now been 76 cases in the Czech Republic, according to Defra’s latest situation assessment. All outbreaks have occurred in the Zlin region, where control measures are in place. The disease is not currently present in areas with a high density of commercial pigs and there have been no reported cases in domestic pigs.

Czech authorities have announced plans to put a 45km electric fence around the infected area in Zlin, to contain wild boar.

Poland has reported six new cases in domestic pigs, of which four are in the Part I zone, which includes a commercial holding of 2,000 pigs. The outbreaks are said to be the result of poor on-farm biosecurity. Some have been attributed to shared grazing with cattle where wild boar have access.

The country has announced additional control measures on pig farms, such as keeping pigs separate from other livestock, controlling meat products in hand luggage and increased checks on main transport routes with Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine.

Eight new outbreaks were reported in backyard pig holdings in the Omsk region of East Russia. There has also been an increase in reported cases in wild boar in the Ukraine, near the border with Romania and Hungary. In response, Hungarian authorities have increased surveillance along the border with the Ukraine.

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Campaign highlights ‘devastating impact’ of smoking around pets

News Story 1
 Leading vet charity PDSA has launched a campaign highlighting the ‘devastating impact’ that smoking can have on pets. The launch coincides with National No Smoking Day (14 March 2018) and aims to raise awareness of the risks of passive smoking and how to keep pets safe.

“Recent studies highlight that this is a really serious issue, and we want pet owners to know that they can make a real difference by simply choosing to smoke outdoors away from their pets,” said PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan. “We want pet owners to realise that, if they smoke, their pets smoke too.”  

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News Shorts
AWF named charity of the year

The Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) has been chosen as charity of the year by the Veterinary Marketing Association (VMA). AWF is a vet-led charity, supported by the BVA, which aims to improve animal welfare though research funding, supporting veterinary education, providing pet care advice and encouraging debate on welfare issues.

VMA has pledged a range of support, including raising awareness and funds at their awards ceremony, which takes place on Friday 16 March, as well as offering marketing support through VMA marketing workshops.