African swine fever has been sweeping across the Baltic states and Poland, raising fears the disease could soon spread further into neighbouring EU countries.

A spate of new cases in wild boar and domestic pigs has been confirmed in the region in recent days.

Defra has announced three further reports of the disease in domestic pigs in Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

The Lithuanian authorities have reported an outbreak on a large commercial holding of 20,000 pigs close to the border with Belarus and Latvia.

See also: Pig farmers call for tighter border controls to keep out African swine fever

African swine fever symptoms

  • Blotchy skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • High temperature
  • Pigs show signs of distress

And Latvian authorities have reported two new incidents, close to the Estonian border, where the disease had not previously been reported.

The Polish authorities have reported a new outbreak in a backyard holding of eight pigs, 2.5km from the border with Belarus.

There have been an increasing number of cases reported in wild boar within recent weeks in the direct locality, but this is the first time ASF has been reported in domestic pigs in Poland.

Poland and Lithuania have been carrying out high-level testing of wild boar, feral and domestic pigs since wild boar cases were reported along the Belarus border in February this year.

The disease can also be carried by people and transport and in meat, which puts the British pig industry in the firing line because so many of its workforce are from eastern European countries.

However, despite the new outbreaks, Defra said the risk of the disease spreading to the UK through the legal movement of pigs or products of animal origin were “low”.

A Defra spokesman said: “We would like to remind all livestock keepers the legal requirement to report to AHVLA any suspicion of African swine fever, a notifiable disease , and that swill feeding to pigs is prohibited.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and report on technical and political developments as part of exchanging information with other countries and sectors.”