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African swine fever: Why the situation in Germany is not comparable to that in the Czech Republic or Belgium

After the first occurrence of African swine fever (ASF) in Germany in September 2020, control measures were implemented that resembled those taken in the Czech Republic and Belgium, the only two countries that succeeded in eliminating ASF from their territory so far in the current epidemic. In the present study, the epidemiological course of ASF in the first six months since introduction in these three countries is compared. Within six months, Germany experienced more cases than the Czech Republic and Belgium. The affected area in Germany, measured using minimal convex polygons, is much larger than the respective areas in the Czech Republic and in Belgium. All cases in the Czech Republic and in Belgium clustered in one single defined area, suggesting point source introductions, whereas in Germany four distinct spatial clusters were observed, which indicates that multiple incursions had occurred along the border with Poland. While the overall course of the disease was comparable, when individual clusters were considered, the summarized data showed clear differences between the situation in Germany compared to that in the Czech Republic and Belgium. Germany experienced several independent introductions, caused by continuous infection pressure along the border to Poland, while the infection was only introduced on a single occasion each into the Czech Republic and Belgium. These differences may require appropriate adaptation of control measures, in particular concerning fencing along the border.

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