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ASF traces found in Northern Ireland

ASF traces found in Northern Ireland

Discovery follows Canada-EU zoning deal


By Jonathan Martin
Staff Writer

United Kingdom (UK) port authorities seized meat contaminated by African swine fever (ASF) in June.

Belfast’s Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute confirmed that the meat contained “DNA fragments” of the virus, which had, until now, never made its way into the UK. The soiled sample was among 300 kgs (661 lbs) of illegally imported meat and dairy products seized in June, Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said.

Earlier this month, Canada signed a zoning agreement with the European Union (EU) that would allow pork exchanges to continue between the trade partners if either suffered an ASF outbreak.

Canada sent over C$4.2-million worth of pork and pork products to the EU last year. These exports amounted to around 1 per cent of the C$3.8-billion worth of pork Canada ships to 87 countries annually.

DAERA recently launched a campaign targeting travellers from ASF-affected regions, warning them against bringing meat products into the country.

“I make no excuses for repeating this message,” Dr. Robert Huey, the chief veterinary officer of DAERA, said in a release. “The greatest risk is to our agri-food industry and our environment, as any introduction of pests, diseases and non-native species can have a potentially devastating impact. Ecosystems can be disrupted with significant knock-on effects on agriculture and the local economy.”

Since ASF broke out in the Republic of Georgia in 2007, Europeans have culled more than 1 million pigs. The virus has made its way through the Caucasus region, the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe. The World Animal Health Organization has received reports of infected wild boars in Belgium, as well.

The UK released a report in Nov. 2018 calculating a 20 per cent chance that ASF infects the kingdom.

“From a management perspective, this is considered 'likely',” the document reads.


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