African swine fever is a disease that affects domestic pigs and wild boar. The disease is highly contagious and although it represents no danger to humans, it is a danger to pig farmers. There are more than 3000 farmers that keep around 670,000 pigs in Saxony.
Because there is no vaccine or treatment, the current method to stop spread of the virus is through early containment, separation and extermination of infected animals.
Although humans can’t get the disease, they can unwillingly transmit it through contaminated shoes, clothing, tools and containers. In Europe the disease is most commonly spread through wild boar.
The disease was first detected in the EU in 2014. The first occurrence in Germany was reported in Brandenburg in September 2020 only 50 kilometers away from the border with Saxony. In October 2020 the first case of the disease was found in Saxony: an infected wild boar shot in the district of Görlitz.
Already in 2020 Saxony began erecting electric fences to contain wild boars along the Polish border. The fence was built over the entire 128 km length of the Saxon border with Poland at a cost of 250,000 Euros.
After the recent discovery in Görlitz search teams are combing the fenced zones searching for living or dead animals. They have some 5,000 hectares to search, some of which is impassable forest. They are also working with the help of drones and search dogs. During this time agricultural activities as well as hunting have been forbidden in the restricted zone.