Danes take precautions after swine flu crops up in Germany

Health

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Authorities in Denmark on Friday urged hunters, truckdrivers and farmers to use extra care in cleaning their equipment and to avoid importing meat products following recent reports of African swine fever cases among domestic pigs in neighboring Germany.

The swine flu cases were reported in areas of Germany less than 400 kilometers (250 miles) from the Danish border.

”Just a single case of African swine fever on Danish soil will result in losses in the billions,” said Signe Balslev, a veterinarian with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.

Approximately 90% of Denmark’s pork production is exported, accounting for almost half of all agricultural exports and for more than 5% of the country’s total exports, according to official figures. Danish pig meat goes to more than 140 countries, with the largest markets being Germany, Britain, Poland, China, Japan, Italy, Russia and Sweden.

Balslev said it was “absolutely crucial” that hunters and truck drivers clean their clothes, footwear, equipment and trucks after handling animals, while agricultural workers must “not bring animal foods to Denmark.” She said the infection “can hide in both the soil under the boots, on weapons and other equipment as well as in food such as spiced sausage or smoked meat.”

Unlike swine flu, African swine fever doesn’t affect humans.

It has previously appeared among wild boars and farmed pigs in several European countries, including Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Germany and Hungary, she said.

In 2019, Denmark erected a 70-kilometer (43.4-mile) fence along the German border to protect the Danish pork industry, by preventing wild swine crossing from Germany and breeding with farm pigs or possibly bringing in disease.

Germany’s first case of African swine fever was confirmed a year ago in the eastern state of Brandenburg, near the Polish border. The first case in domestic pigs was confirmed in the same state in July.

Uwe Feiler, a deputy agriculture minister in Germany, said on Friday that the situation is “dynamic” and that “the infection pressure from Poland remains high,” German news agency dpa reported.

He said that 2,070 infected wild boars so far have been recorded in Germany, 1,622 of them in Brandenburg and 448 in Saxony, another eastern state. In domestic pigs, the virus has been detected in two tiny farms and at an organic farm with 200 animals in Brandenburg, an eastern German state that surrounds Berlin.

Feiler said that the measures taken so far have kept the disease “contained to very limited areas in Brandenburg and Saxony,” and that domestic pigs have been spared with the exception of animals at those three farms inside exclusion zones.

It was unclear why the Danes reacted now to the situation.

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Geir Moulsen in Berlin contributed to this report.

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