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AFRICAN swine fever (ASF) has recently emerged in several European countries, with cases often linked to the movement of native Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa). ASF is devastating for the pork industry, causing massive losses of animals due to mortality and stamping out and further economic loss from trade restrictions.
ASF was reintroduced into continental Europe via an incursion in Georgia in April 2007 from where it rapidly spread into Armenia, affecting domestic pigs and wild boar (Sanchez-Vizcaino and others 2013). ASF further expanded through wild boar populations around the Caucasus mountains (OIE 2012, Sanchez-Vizcaíno and others 2013). Spread into Azerbajan, Chechnya, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus caused large-scale epidemics in domestic pigs. Concurrent infection of domestic pig and wild boar populations has led to the persistence of ASF in many areas. Controlling ASF in Russia and the Caucasus region proved to be extremely difficult, reflecting the complexity of regional sanitary, economic, environmental and sociocultural factors (Sanchez-Vizcaino and others 2013). There are no vaccines and ASF is still on the move (Oura 2014). ASF entered the European Union in 2014, with the first cases in Lithuania followed by Poland, Latvia and Estonia. The first detections in all of these EU member states were in wild boar found dead.
Wild boar play an important role in the spread of ASF and potentially in its maintenance. It is difficult to eliminate ASF from wild boar populations once it has become endemic (Gogin and others 2013). Contact between infected wild boar and domestic pigs on …