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ASF In Abkhazia Deemed Deliberate Sabotage

by 5m Editor
22 August 2007, at 10:02am

GEORGIA - Another outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) has been reported in Georgia and it's beginning to cause political unease.

Map of outbreak locations

Reports on the World Organisation for Animal Health OIE website say the disease has been confirmed near the towns of Babushari and Latta, both in the autonomous region of Abkhazia, in the North of country.

The pigs are thought to have contracted the disease by transmission from humans, vehicles or feed and De facto authorities in Abkhazia have been quick to blame Georgian producers for the outbreak.

They claim that the virus was spread from the Tbilisi-controlled upper Kodori Gorge from dead, infected pigs that had been reputedly thrown into the River Enguri. The river is the boundary between secessionist-controlled and Tbilisi-controlled territory.

Erik Anshba, head of the De facto Abkhaz veterinary service, says that every pig in eastern Abkhazia will now need to be culled. Russian veterinary experts are now in the region to monitor the situation.

"It'll be very difficult for us to deal with this problem without help from international organisations and Russian colleagues," he added.

Cases of devastating ASF swept through Georgia earlier this summer. The viral disease was reported in 52 out of 65 districts in the state and forced neighboring Russia to close its borders to Georgian pork from April to June this year.

Dr Levan Ramishvili, chairman of Georgia's veterinary union at the country's ministry of agriculture in Tbilisi, reported the Abkhazia outbreak after animals suspected as having the disease were found on 3 August 2007.

Necropsy and pathological investigations confirmed ASF and out of a group of 400 animals suspected as being infected, 341 animals were found to have the disease. A total of 59 had to be killed.

Control measures
Georgia has now applied a number of national control measures, including pig movement restrictions inside the country, disinfection of the infected premises, quarantine and vaccination. Borders controls are also in operation with closures for transportation of live animals and pigmeat products to certain regions and neighboring states.

More than 30,000 pigs have died and 22,000 have been culled as a result of the epidemic, which has been difficult to contain since most of the country's pig population is kept in backyard holdings or on small family farms. There is no vaccine for the disease.

The outbreaks of African Swine Fever in Georgia are significant as the disease has rarely been detected north of the Sahara. Only the Italian island of Sardinia has been know to experience ASF infections in the past.

Click here for further information on African Swine Fever

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