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Luxembourg, 27 June 2002

Byrne welcomes adoption of African Swine Fever Directive

David Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, today welcomed the Agriculture Council's unanimous approval of a new Directive on the control of African swine fever. The Directive closes a gap in the EU strategy to control one of the most dangerous animal diseases. Up to now, no EU harmonised rules were in place to control this contagious (but rare in Europe) disease of pigs. No vaccines are available to combat the disease.

African swine fever (ASF) is a very serious viral disease of domestic pigs and wild boars. Due to the very high mortality rate and its potentially devastating effect for the pig sector, ASF is categorised by the Office International of Epizooties (OIE) as one of the most important infectious animal diseases.

The disease is widespread in most of the African continent, where it represents a very serious obstacle to the development of pig farming. It is also found in the internal part of the island of Sardinia, where the ASF virus circulates in the local free-ranging pig population living in close contact with wild boar.

The measures necessary to control ASF are similar to the ones applied to control other pig diseases, such as Classical swine fever (CSF). The Directive approved by the Council today therefore takes into account the experience gained in the EU as regards the control of CSF. The new Directive will serve as a basis to ensure better controls should ASF arise in the vast part of the Union which is ASF-free, and possible measures for its complete eradication from the whole of the European Union.

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