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African Swine Fever Detected in the Dominican Republic, Raising Concerns

Reuters writers Julie Ingwersen and Tom Polansek reported last week that, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the deadly hog virus African swine fever in samples from pigs in the Dominican Republic, the agency said on Wednesday, fueling concerns about the disease creeping closer to the United States.

“The positive tests represent the first detection of the disease in the Americas in about 40 years, according to the National Pork Producers Council, a U.S. industry group.

No cases have ever been found in the United States. However, infections in the Dominican Republic highlight the risk for the spread of the disease, which devastated China’s hog herd after being detected there in 2018.”

‘The proximity of course is a concern,’ said Paul Sundberg, executive director of the Swine Health Information Center in the United States.

The Reuters article explained that, “The positive samples in the Dominican Republic came from two farms that were geographically separated, Sundberg said, adding that it will be important to determine how the virus entered the country.”

Ingwersen and Polansek added that, “The United States already prohibits imports of pork from the Dominican Republic as a result of another disease there, Classical swine fever, according to the USDA. The agency said it is committed to helping the Dominican Republic with African swine fever and will offer assistance to neighboring Haiti, which is at ‘high risk’ for cases.”

USDA – Foreign Agricultural Service – 2020 United States Agricultural Export Yearbook (April 2021).

In a separate Reuters article last week, Tom Polansek reported that, “The Dominican Republic is restricting pig shipments and mobilizing the military to contain the spread of African swine fever, the agriculture ministry said Thursday, as the United States and Mexico tightened border checks to avoid infections.

“U.S. testing of 389 samples from Dominican hogs raised on farms and in backyards indicate the contagious disease is in ‘a small population of backyard pigs from Sánchez Ramírez and Montecristi provinces,’ according to a statement.”

Mr. Polansek pointed out that, “The United States and Mexico are separately increasing airport inspections to stop travelers from bringing in Dominican pork products that could carry the virus. Both countries previously blocked Dominican pork.

‘The confirmation of ASF in the Dominican Republic certainly is very, very concerning,’ said Mike Naig, Iowa’s agriculture secretary. ‘We will need to elevate our ability to keep it out.’

And at the end of last week, Reuters writer Ezequiel Abiu Lopez reported that, “World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) called on countries to strengthen efforts to keep out African swine fever on Friday after the Dominican Republic reported the Americas’ first cases of the deadly pig disease in nearly 40 years.

“The Caribbean nation’s outbreak started July 1, according to an OIE report, though it was not confirmed through U.S. testing until Wednesday.

“Dominican cases have raised concerns about the risk for African swine fever to spread in the region, including to the United States.”

The Reuters article noted that, “Controlling the disease’s spread to new countries in the Americas ‘will be critical to protect food security and livelihoods of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations,’ the OIE said.”

Friday’s article stated that, “An outbreak in Monte Cristi province began July 1 among ‘animals of different ages and sexes raised in a community-type backyard,’ the report said. There were 827 animals that died or were killed.

“Another outbreak in in Sánchez Ramírez province began July 14 and involved 15 pigs in a backyard farm that died, according to OIE.

“‘The great diversity of production and trade systems that currently coexist in the Americas region pose unique additional challenges when it comes to facing this disease,’ said Luis Barcos, OIE representative for the Americas.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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