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Temporary ban on Belgian pork import as African swine fever detected | 06 July 2019

As a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of introducing the African swine fever through trade, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, through the National Biodiversity Agency has temporarily suspended all pork importation emanating from Belgium.

In September 2018, the Belgian government announced that African swine fever (ASF) had been detected in wild boars and the outbreak was recorded in the municipality of Étalle, 15 kilometres from the French border, 50 kilometres from Germany, and 150 kilometres from the Netherlands.

The source of the contamination is not yet known, but human activity seems the most likely candidate.

Since Belgium is a common importation market for local businessmen, the National Biodiversity Agency (NBA) has ceased to issue import certificate for pork meat until the situation is cleared.

In a press conference yesterday at NBA’s office at Orion Mall building, chief executive Marc Naiken said the ban is purely based on precautionary measures.

He explained that it is important to prevent contaminated meat from entering the country as it will have a negative impact on the national food supply.

Mr Naiken added that since Seychelles is also importing pork from France, which is close to Belgium, the authority is monitoring the situation very closely, in case of any new development.

He also added that import permit will not be issued to importers who are buying meat from any suspected countries, or countries which have been identified as high risk places.

Mr Naiken further explained that the ban came into force on July 2 and reassured members of the public, that so far no infected products have hit the local shores.

Also present at yesterday’s press conference, chief veterinary officer Jimmy Melanie answered questions regarding any potential impacts of ASF on human health.

Dr Melanie explained that the ASF is a viral disease impacting only pigs and not people, it is therefore not a public health threat, nor a food-safety concern.

It cannot be transmitted to humans through contact with pigs or pork.

He explained that every imported meat consignment goes through a visual inspection process and if any suspicion arises, a deeper laboratory examination will be carried out.

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, which is responsible for serious economic and production losses.

It is caused by a large DNA virus of the Asfarviridae family, which also infects ticks of the genus Ornithodoros.

Although signs of ASF and classical swine fever (CSF) may be similar, the ASF virus is unrelated to the CSF virus.

ASF is a disease listed in the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and must be reported to the OIE.

Prevention in countries free of the disease depends on implementation of appropriate import policies and biosecurity measures, ensuring that neither infected live pigs nor pork products are introduced into areas free of ASF. This includes ensuring proper disposal of waste food from aircraft, ships or vehicles coming from affected countries and policing illegal imports of live pigs and pork products from affected countries.

During outbreaks and in affected countries, control of ASF can be difficult and must be adapted to the specific epidemiological situation.

Classic sanitary measures may be employed including early detection and humane killing of animals (with proper disposal of carcases and waste); thorough cleansing and disinfection; zoning/compartmentalisation and movement controls; surveillance and detailed epidemiological investigation; strict bio security measures on farms.



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