Italy is facing theAfrican swine fever (ASF) outbreak with determination and adopted a National Surveillance Plan of the ASF which aims to protect the country's pig herd from the virus. The plan, approved and co-financed by the European Community, underwent an update in 2022 and now in 2023, in order to strengthen the control and eradication measures. This article will focus on the National Plan for the Surveillance and Eradication of African swine fever for 2023, analyzing the strategies adopted and the control actions implemented in response to the epidemic.
African swine fever eradication plans:
The National Plan for the surveillance and eradication of ASF it develops in different areas of intervention. First, passive surveillance is carried out in wild boar populations, which are considered the main vehicles of virus transmission. Similarly, pig farms are monitored to detect any cases of infection. Another crucial aspect concerns the management of the wild boar population, in order to contain the spread of the virus.
In addition to surveillance, it is essential to verify the application of biosecurity measures in farms and to disseminate information and training among the stakeholders involved. This approach aims to raise awareness and knowledge of the disease, so that all stakeholders can contribute effectively to it prevention and control of ASF.
In response to the ever-changing epidemiological situation, additions to the 2022 Plan relating to eradication measures in restricted areas have been elaborated. In Piedmont and Liguria, a single strategy has been agreed which provides for the installation of a barrier to contain the population of infected wild boars and limit the circulation of the virus. The specific objectives of this strategy are to avoid the transmission of infection from feral to domestic pigs, contain the infection within the current infected areas and progressively reduce the area of circulation of the virus.
In the free areas, passive surveillance measures are implemented in the domestic and wild sectors, together with the verification of the application of biosecurity measures in farms. Training and information activities are also promoted to increase awareness of the disease among farmers, hunters and other stakeholders.
In non-free areas, more specific actions are implemented, such as the active search for wild boar carcasses , passive surveillance on wild boars found dead or dying, both captured and slaughtered. It is also enhanced active surveillance through hunting and control activity, regulated and compliant with biosecurity measures.
The strengthening of physical barriers and crossing points between the infected areas and the outside is envisaged, in order to limit the movement of populations of infected wild boars and the spread of the infection. Furthermore, the Plan also includes measures to address domestic outbreaks and eradication in the Sardinia region, with the aim of completely eliminating the disease.
The National African Swine Fever Surveillance and Eradication Plan for 2023 reflects Italy's efforts to combat the epidemic. Through surveillance, control and training measures, the country aims to protect its pig herd and limit the spread of the virus. Despite the challenges, the adoption of these plans demonstrates the authorities' commitment to manage the situation effectively and prevent potential losses in the pig sector. The implementation of these measures represents a significant step towards achieving African swine fever eradication in Italy.