Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
  • Publication
    African swine fever and outdoor farming of pigs
    This opinion describes outdoor farming of pigs in the EU, assesses the risk of African swine fewer (ASF) introduction and spread associated with outdoor pig farms and proposes biosecurity and control measures for outdoor pig farms in ASF-affected areas of the EU. Evidence was collected from Member States (MSs) veterinary authorities, farmers’ associations, literature and legislative documents. An Expert knowledge elicitation (EKE) was carried out to group outdoor pig farms according to their risk of introduction and spread of ASF, to rank biosecurity measures regarding their effectiveness with regard to ASF and propose improvements of biosecurity for outdoor pig farming and accompanying control measures. Outdoor pig farming is common and various farm types are present throughout the EU. As there is no legislation at European level for categorising outdoor pig farms in the EU, information is limited, not harmonised and needs to be interpreted with care. The baseline risk of outdoor pig farms for ASFV introduction and its spread is high but with considerable uncertainty. The Panel is 66–90% certain that, if single solid or double fences were fully and properly implemented on all outdoor pig farms in areas of the EU where ASF is present in wild boar and in domestic pigs in indoor farms and outdoor farms (worst case scenario not considering different restriction zones or particular situations), without requiring any other outdoor-specific biosecurity measures or control measures, this would reduce the number of new ASF outbreaks occurring in these farms within a year by more than 50% compared to the baseline risk. The Panel concludes that the regular implementation of independent and objective on-farm biosecurity assessments using comprehensive standard protocols and approving outdoor pig farms on the basis of their biosecurity risk in an official system managed by competent authorities will further reduce the risk of ASF introduction and spread related to outdoor pig farms.
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  • Publication
    Risk assessment of African swine fever in the south‐eastern countries of Europe
    The European Commission requested EFSA to estimate the risk of spread of African swine fever (ASF) and to identify potential risk factors (indicators) for the spread of ASF, given introduction in the south‐eastern countries of Europe (region of concern, ROC), namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia. Three EU Member States (MS) – Croatia, Greece and Slovenia – were included in the ROC due to their geographical location and ASF‐free status. Based on collected information on potential risk factors (indicators) for each country and the relevant EU regulations in force, the estimated probability of spread of ASF within the ROC within one year after introduction into the ROC was assessed to be very high (from 66% to 100%). This estimate was determined after considering the high number of indicators present in most of the countries in the ROC and the known effect that these indicators can have on ASF spread, especially those related to the structure of the domestic pig sector, the presence of wild boar and social factors. The presence of indicators varies between countries in the ROC. Each country is at risk of ASF spread following introduction; however, some countries may have a higher probability of ASF spread following introduction. In addition, the probability of ASF spread from the ROC to EU MSs outside the ROC within one year after introduction of ASF in the ROC was estimated to be very low to low (from 0% to 15%). This estimate was based on the comparison of the indicators present in the ROC and the already affected countries in south‐eastern Europe, such as Bulgaria and Romania, where there was no evidence of ASF spread to other EU MS within one year.
      181Scopus© Citations 31
  • Publication
    African swine fever in wild boar
    The European Commission requested EFSA to compare the reliability of wild boar density estimates across the EU and to provide guidance to improve data collection methods. Currently, the only EU‐wide available data are hunting data. Their collection methods should be harmonised to be comparable and to improve predictive models for wild boar density. These models could be validated by more precise density data, collected at local level e.g. by camera trapping. Based on practical and theoretical considerations, it is currently not possible to establish wild boar density thresholds that do not allow sustaining African swine fever (ASF). There are many drivers determining if ASF can be sustained or not, including heterogeneous population structures and human‐mediated spread and there are still unknowns on the importance of different transmission modes in the epidemiology. Based on extensive literature reviews and observations from affected Member States, the efficacy of different wild boar population reduction and separation methods is evaluated. Different wild boar management strategies at different stages of the epidemic are suggested. Preventive measures to reduce and stabilise wild boar density, before ASF introduction, will be beneficial both in reducing the probability of exposure of the population to ASF and the efforts needed for potential emergency actions (i.e. less carcass removal) if an ASF incursion were to occur. Passive surveillance is the most effective and efficient method of surveillance for early detection of ASF in free areas. Following focal ASF introduction, the wild boar populations should be kept undisturbed for a short period (e.g. hunting ban on all species, leave crops unharvested to provide food and shelter within the affected area) and drastic reduction of the wild boar population may be performed only ahead of the ASF advance front, in the free populations. Following the decline in the epidemic, as demonstrated through passive surveillance, active population management should be reconsidered.
      360Scopus© Citations 81
  • Publication
    Guidance on the assessment criteria for applications for new or modified stunning methods regarding animal protection at the time of killing
    This guidance defines the process for handling applications on new or modified stunning methods and the parameters that will be assessed by the EFSA Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) Panel. The applications, received through the European Commission, should contain administrative information, a checklist of data to be submitted and a technical dossier. The dossier should include two or more studies (in laboratory and slaughterhouse conditions) reporting all parameters and methodological aspects that are indicated in the guidance. The applications will first be scrutinised by the EFSA's Applications Desk (APDESK) Unit for verification of the completeness of the data submitted for the risk assessment of the stunning method. If the application is considered not valid, additional information may be requested from the applicant. If considered valid, it will be subjected to assessment phase 1 where the data related to parameters for the scientific evaluation of the stunning method will be examined by the AHAW Panel. Such parameters focus on the stunning method and the outcomes of interest, i.e. immediate onset of unconsciousness or the absence of avoidable pain, distress and suffering until the loss of consciousness and duration of the unconsciousness (until death). The applicant should also propose methodologies and results to assess the equivalence with existing stunning methods in terms of welfare outcomes. Applications passing assessment phase 1 will be subjected to the following phase 2 which will be carried out by the AHAW Panel and focuses on the animal welfare risk assessment. In this phase, the Panel will assess the outcomes, conclusions and discussion proposed by the applicant. The results of the assessment will be published in a scientific opinion.
      217Scopus© Citations 10
  • Publication
    Risk of survival, establishment and spread of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) in the EU
    Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) is an emerging fungal pathogen of salamanders. Despite limited surveillance, Bsal was detected in kept salamanders populations in Belgium, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and in wild populations in some regions of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. According to niche modelling, at least part of the distribution range of every salamander species in Europe overlaps with the climate conditions predicted to be suitable for Bsal. Passive surveillance is considered the most suitable approach for detection of Bsal emergence in wild populations. Demonstration of Bsal absence is considered feasible only in closed populations of kept susceptible species. In the wild, Bsal can spread by both active (e.g. salamanders, anurans) and passive (e.g. birds, water) carriers; it is most likely maintained/spread in infected areas by contacts of salamanders or by interactions with anurans, whereas human activities most likely cause Bsal entry into new areas and populations. In kept amphibians, Bsal contamination via live silent carriers (wild birds and anurans) is considered extremely unlikely. The risk‐mitigation measures that were considered the most feasible and effective: (i) for ensuring safer international or intra‐EU trade of live salamanders, are: ban or restrictions on salamander imports, hygiene procedures and good practice manuals; (ii) for protecting kept salamanders from Bsal, are: identification and treatment of positive collections; (iii) for on‐site protection of wild salamanders, are: preventing translocation of wild amphibians and release/return to the wild of kept/temporarily housed wild salamanders, and setting up contact points/emergency teams for passive surveillance. Combining several risk‐mitigation measures improve the overall effectiveness. It is recommended to: introduce a harmonised protocol for Bsal detection throughout the EU; improve data acquisition on salamander abundance and distribution; enhance passive surveillance activities; increase public and professionals’ awareness; condition any movement of captive salamanders on Bsal known health status.
      318Scopus© Citations 19
  • Publication
    ASF Exit Strategy: Providing cumulative evidence of the absence of African swine fever virus circulation in wild boar populations using standard surveillance measures
    EFSA assessed the role of seropositive wild boar in African swine fever (ASF) persistence. Surveillance data from Estonia and Latvia investigated with a generalised equation method demonstrated a significantly slower decline in seroprevalence in adult animals compared with subadults. The seroprevalence in adults, taking more than 24 months to approach zero after the last detection of ASFV circulation, would be a poor indicator to demonstrate the absence of virus circulation. A narrative literature review updated the knowledge on the mortality rate, the duration of protective immunity and maternal antibodies and transmission parameters. In addition, parameters potentially leading to prolonged virus circulation (persistence) in wild boar populations were reviewed. A stochastic explicit model was used to evaluate the dynamics of virus prevalence, seroprevalence and the number of carcasses attributed to ASF. Secondly, the impact of four scenarios on the duration of ASF virus (ASFV) persistence was evaluated with the model, namely a: (1) prolonged, lifelong infectious period, (2) reduction in the case‐fatality rate and prolonged transient infectiousness; (3) change in duration of protective immunity and (4) change in the duration of protection from maternal antibodies. Only the lifelong infectious period scenario had an important prolonging effect on the persistence of ASF. Finally, the model tested the performance of different proposed surveillance strategies to provide evidence of the absence of virus circulation (Exit Strategy). A two‐phase approach (Screening Phase, Confirmation Phase) was suggested for the Exit Strategy. The accuracy of the Exit Strategy increases with increasing numbers of carcasses collected and tested. The inclusion of active surveillance based on hunting has limited impact on the performance of the Exit Strategy compared with lengthening of the monitoring period. This performance improvement should be reasonably balanced against an unnecessary prolonged ‘time free’ with only a marginal gain in performance. Recommendations are provided for minimum monitoring periods leading to minimal failure rates of the Exit Strategy. The proposed Exit Strategy would fail with the presence of lifelong infectious wild boar. That said, it should be emphasised that the existence of such animals is speculative, based on current knowledge.
      140Scopus© Citations 22
  • Publication
    Research gap analysis on African swine fever
    The most significant knowledge gaps in the prevention and control of African swine fever (ASF) were identified by the EU Veterinary services and other stakeholders involved in pig production and wild boar management through an online survey. The respondents were asked to identify the major research needs in order to improve short‐term ASF risk management. Four major gaps were identified: ‘wild boar’, ‘African swine fever virus (ASFV) survival and transmission’, ‘biosecurity’ and ‘surveillance’. In particular, the respondents stressed the need for better knowledge on wild boar management and surveillance, and improved knowledge on the possible mechanism for spread and persistence of ASF in wild boar populations. They indicated the need for research on ASFV survival and transmission from the environment, different products such as feed and feed materials, and potential arthropod vector transmission. In addition, several research topics on biosecurity were identified as significant knowledge gaps and the need to identify risk factors for ASFV entry into domestic pig holdings, to develop protocols to implement specific and appropriate biosecurity measures, and to improve the knowledge about the domestic pig–wild boar interface. Potential sources of ASFV introduction into unaffected countries need to be better understood by an in‐depth analysis of the possible pathways of introduction of ASFV with the focus on food, feed, transport of live wild boars and human movements. Finally, research on communication methods to increase awareness among all players involved in the epidemiology of ASF (including truck drivers, hunters and tourists) and to increase compliance with existing control measures was also a topic mentioned by all stakeholders.
      352Scopus© Citations 27