In order to limit the dangerous African swine fever from spreading into the Baltic countries from Russia and Belarus, a fence will have to be built on the countries’ borders with Russia and Belarus in order to prevent the free movement of wild boars across the border, reports LETA. It is hoped that the significant cost of building the fence will be covered by the European Union, said Food and Veterinary Service Director General Maris Balodis after a meeting of the Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonia and Polish veterinary service heads in Vilnius.
The fence will be built along the entire border of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia with Russia and Belarus. This is the only way to limit the movement of wild boars, explained Balodis.
He also said that the project of such scale will be expensive, which is why the EU will be requested to cover the cost. Lithuania, the current president country of the EU, is already working on application for funds.
“The project will cost Lithuania at least 10 million euros, and it will cost us about the same. Taking into account that this is a highly dangerous disease, the EU will be requested to cover the cost of the project,” said Balodis.
The other preventive measure deals with passengers’ luggage checks. The veterinary services in all four countries will request government funds for sniffer dogs to help inspectors establish all cases of unauthorized meat in passengers’ luggage.
The third preventive measure will be the establishment of the so-called buffer zones along the borders, where farmers will not be permitted to have pigs. “Here, however, we had a slight disagreement, because the Lithuanians want a ten-kilometer buffer zone along the border, to which we do not agree. Latvia’s experience of tackling classical swine fever is that such buffer zones result in farmers raising pigs without reporting this to the authorities,” said Balodis.
Replying to a question what would happen if all the preventive measures notwithstanding, the dangerous disease does reach Latvia, Balodis said that all the infected herds would have to be slaughtered, quarantine zones would be designated, animal movement would be restricted, and others.
“At the moment we are doing all we can to stop the disease, because if it keeps spreading, the consequences may be extremely grave and leave a ruinous impact on the entire pork market,” said Balodis.
On July 24, pigs in Russia’s Nevel District, Pskov Region, which is approximately 100 kilometers from the Latvian border, were diagnosed with African swine fever, which is why the Food and Veterinary Service, in cooperation with the State Revenue Service, Customs Board and State Border Guard, stepped up checks on the baggage of all travelers entering Latvia from Russia.
The first case of African swine fever in Belarus was ascertained on June 25 in Grodno Region, approximately 40 kilometers from the Lithuanian border. As a result, the European Commission ordered control measures at all EU crossing points on the borders with Belarus and Russia.
African swine fever is a very dangerous, highly contagious viral disease that affects pigs and wild boar. In the event of contamination, all pigs within a designated area are to be put down in order to prevent even more losses from the disease.