Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Will Russia's ASF outbreak affect grain exports?

African swine fever seems to be an increasing problem in Russia judging by the amount of reports currently being issued by the veterinary and phytosanitary watchdog.

The government are saying that quarantine measures being imposed in southern Russia will not affect grain exports from the region, which to my mind suggests it may well actually do precisely that.

The virus can be transported on machinery, clothing and presumably grain which would then make sense to restrict exports to stop it spreading further afield.

I’m not an expert on animal pathology but what I do know is that ASF was first detected in eastern and northern Europe in 2007 and is now considered to be endemic in domestic pigs in Russia.

The virus vector is a tick which can survive in the absence of a hosts for up to five years and once a pig is infected it sheds large quantities of the virus making it highly contagious to other pigs resulting in high mortality rates.

Adding to that, the virus can remain viable for 15 weeks in chilled meat and up to six months in processed hams, making it an incredibly difficult pathogen to contain.

How big of a problem is it in Russia?  I don’t know but the veterinary and phytosanitary watchdog have made 52 separate announcements on their website relating to ASF since the beginning of September.