Army to intervene in African swine fever outbreak

A team of military veterinarians will be helping to stop the spread of the virus

Army veterinarians are involved in fighting the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak. A four-member intervention unit from the Veterinary Sanitation Institute at Mankovice will be deployed as of Aug. 21 along with civilian colleagues to implement emergency measures to stop the spread of the disease.

The team is composed of two veterinary surgeons, a veterinary technician and a driver.

The group's task will be to perform autopsy tests and laboratory tests on samples taken from captured and dead wild boar, Captain Lada Ferkálová of the military health agency said in a Defense Ministry press release.

The African swine fever virus causes a hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in pigs, and also infects warthogs, bushpigs, and some ticks. Currently there is no vaccine or treatment.

The first two dead wild boar, or feral pigs, with ASF were found on June 21 and 22 on the outskirts of Zlín. So far, the disease has been confirmed in 90 boar, and the total number of dead boar found in the Zlín region is 159. The disease is present in other Central and Eastern European countries as well.

The efforts at fighting the disease are meant to keep it from spreading from boars to pig farms.

Since July, special measures have been in place that allow hunters to shoot all wild boar in the most affected area. A financial incentive has been offered on the condition that the hunters turn over a sample from the boars. Fences have also been put up to stop the migration of the boars to uninfected areas. Over 1,900 wild boars have been culled, most of them in Kroměříž and Uherské Hradiště areas.

Commercial pig breeders have also been hit with new regulations meant to keep pigs away from contact with the virus. Farmers who fail to follow the rules risk penalties.

Military veterinarians stand ready to perform tasks in the framework of the Integrated Rescue System of the Czech Republic for the benefit of the State Veterinary Administration. On the basis of inter-ministerial agreements, they are designated to deal with crisis situations involving animal disease. The Czech Army is ready for the simultaneous deployment of two intervention groups with different destination within 12 to 72 hours of being asked. There are 27 veterinarians in uniform.

The most recent deployment of Army Veterinarians was to address bird flu outbreaks in January and March of this year.

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