Hungary had to cull 6,129 pigs so far this year in an effort to prevent the spread of the African swine fever (ASF), ministry and veterinary officials told daily Magyar Nemzet.
Several of Hungary’s neighbors – Romania, Serbia and Ukraine – had to cull up to hundreds of thousands of animals to contain the disease.
The virus’s worldwide spread began in earnest a year ago when it was reported in China. It has since spread relentlessly through that country and beyond, first to nearby Asian countries and then later expanding into Europe.
The virus has been found in at least 36 countries on three continents since June 2018, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health. Officials, which also said it has been controlled or eradicated in half of the countries, most of them in Africa.
The disease is usually fatal to pigs, though it does not infect humans. There are no treatments or vaccines, leaving biosecurity and culling as the only methods to contain it. And while some countries have been able to control the virus, many have not.
In Europe, swine fever is mostly carried by wild hogs during their natural movement across borders.
While Hungarian farmers did have to cull the pigs as a preventive measure, no farm has actually been infected so far, but the virus was identified in wild boar in several eastern and southern regions of the country.
State compensation to farmers who had to cull their animals stands at just over 600 million forints (€1.8 million).
Other countries are also taking radical measures against ASF, including Germany, which plans to erect a 120-kilometer long border fence with Poland in order to keep wild boars infected with ASF from crossing from Poland.
Title image: Pig farm in Hungary (Magyar Nemzet/András Éberling)