‘It’s a time bomb’: swine fever outbreak may wreak havoc on Tatarstan

‘It’s a time bomb’: swine fever outbreak may wreak havoc on Tatarstan
Photo: mcx.gov.ru

African swine fever among wild boars detected in Tatarstan’s Yelabuga District may wreak havoc on Tatarstan, particularly animal husbandry, specialists warn. To avoid the spread of the dangerous disease, veterinarians prohibited swine breeders to let the animals roam freely. Farmers began to slaughter swines until they get infected. As a result, the amount of these animals in Tatarstan has suddenly reduced, which is already felt in pork and cured slabs of fatback in the republic’s markets. If AFS gets to large farms, this will lead to big losses in the Agro-Industrial Complex. Read what measures are taken to prevent the threat in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

The fight will be long

As Realnoe Vremya already wrote, an outbreak of African swine fever was detected in Yelabuga District’s The Lower Kama national park. Around ten corpses of wild boars were found not far from Tanayka village. Analyses confirmed they had the virus of African swine fever. According to a decree of the Commission for Emergency Situations, police checkpoints were placed on a 5-kilometre area from the site where the wild boars had been found. Tanayka, Lekarevo and Armaly villages where private households and small farms of these settlements kept around 50 heads of swines are in this zone. They are all subjected to seizure, bloodless destruction and incineration. Owners of the animals were promised to be paid compensation.

Employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs restricted animals and people’s access to the dangerous territory. Moreover, groups of hunters have mobilised in Yelabuga District to catch wild animals to prevent the disease from spreading.

Vice head of the Main Veterinarian Office of the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers Gabdulkhak Motygullin explained that all hogs in the risk zone had already been separated. At the moment, they are working to reduce the population of the wild boar. The animals are shot for sanitary reasons.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know what was the cause of the outbreak of the virus,” Motygullin said. “The only version is they got infected through forage. It is no secret that residents of the national park are given some food. It seems that foods designed for wild animals became the source of the virus.”

According to the expert, it is hard to assume how much the outbreak of African swine fever will last for. The virus firmly “settled” in the wild fauna, the fight promises to be long:

“I can say only one thing for sure: wild boars won’t disappear in Tatarstan forests. These animals reproduce quite quickly. The population can restore during a short period of time”.

Due to the emergency, hog breeding enterprises to work in a strict, closed mode. Citizens breeding hogs in their personal household should keep the animals enclosed. It is necessary to avoid contacts with representatives of the wild. The meat of slaughtered hog should compulsorily be kept in the fridge, don’t eat it raw, not cooked.

“It is prohibited to kill swines that seem to feel bad,” the specialist summed up. “It is dangerous to eat the meat of ill animals.”

Is it a threat to humans?

Veterinarian of Kazan’s Veterinary Association Bulat Nuriakhmetov said that African swine fever was harmless for humans.

“This virus has been existing from time immemorial,” the expert said. “The description of AFS can be seen as early as in Aristotle’s works. The fever poses a threat only to hogs and wild boars. People and other mammals don’t contract this virus and don’t spread it.”

As Nuriakhmetov says, the disease quickly travels across borders between regions and even countries. As a rule, wild boars migrate to Tatarstan from the south. For instance, there were reported cases of imported infection from Samara and Ulyanovsk Oblasts. Wild boars can cover tens of kilometres a day looking for food.

“This disease isn’t seasonal,” the veterinarian stressed. “Wild boars have always lived in Tatarstan. Moreover, their number is big enough.”

Nuriakhmetov believes that it is necessary to regulate the number of wild boars to prevent the infection. It is also necessary not to feed livestock with food residues.

“The virus is relatively resistant,” the expert claimed. “Research showed that nearly half of the outbreaks happened because hogs were treated with residues of human food. A healthy swine ate a slice of sausage made from an ill swine and got infected.”

The veterinarian said that the incubation period of AFS is 5-10 days on average. A discoloured snout and red spots on the lower part of the body are typical symptoms.

“There is still no medicine for African swine fever,” Nuriakhmetov said. “Scientists have been working on medicine, but it is still can’t be created.”

The expert is convinced that the speed of its spread is the main danger of the virus. AFS can wreak havoc on the economy.

“Fortunately, there can’t be a big outbreak of the disease in Kazan,” the veterinarian stressed. “We don’t almost breed hogs. Most livestock in the city is located in households of penitentiaries. 600-700 heads are kept there at the same time.”

Time bomb

Chairman of the Association of Farmers and Households of the Republic of Tatarstan Kamiyar Baytemirov is sure the AFS virus will severely hit Tatarstan’s agriculture.

“Farmers have to provide indoor swine breeding,” he said. “Animals don’t gain in weight, grow slowly. They have a deficit of vitamin D, which is vital for normal growth. Such dangerous gases as ammonia and hydrogen sulphide provoking the development of various ailments accumulate indoors.”

As Baytemirov said, most farmers of the republic began to slaughter hogs until the animals aren’t infected. The number of swines in Tatarstan has suddenly shrunk. As a result, our markets have less pork and cured slabs.

“AFS is a time bomb,” Baytemirov claimed. “We don’t know where and when it will explode. Perhaps, liveable wild boars — carriers of the dangerous virus — are running in our forests. Nobody knows where they are going now.”

According to the expert’s observations, AFS breaks out in Tatarstan 2-3 times a year. The main farmer of Tatarstan thinks that the best method to fight off the disease is to control the amount of the population of wild boars.

By Yelena Semakova