African swine fever outbreak turns into big scandal in Romania
The violent African swine fever outbreak in Romania, which has already led to over 70,000 pigs being culled in the country’s South Eastern and North Western regions, has turned into a scandal.
The local authorities are being accused of not doing enough to prevent this outbreak as warnings about the spread of the virus in Romania’s region existed for over a year. The Agriculture Ministry is taking desperate measures to stop the virus from spreading even more throughout the country.
Agriculture minister Petre Daea apparently issued an order that all corn crops where wild boars have been spotted and may be contaminated with the swine fever virus should be burned or disinfected, according to local agriculture news website Agrointel.ro. The farmers in the affected areas said such a measure would cause damages that are difficult to estimate at the moment and are worried the state won’t compensate them for the lost crops.
However, Daea said on Tuesday that his order for combatting swine fever does not include burning crops. He explained that the crops that may have been infected will be isolated and disinfected, according to Mediafax.
Meanwhile, a journalist investigation by local tabloid Libertatea, shows that Valentin Dragnea, the son of Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Liviu Dragnea, sold over 10,000 pigs just before the recent swine fever outbreak. Valentin Dragnea owns a pig farm in Salcia, Teleorman county.
Meanwhile, other big farmers lost all of their pigs due to the swine fever and the state’s measures to combat the virus. The owner of a pig farm and meat processing plant in Tulcea county, said the authorities only informed him about the swine fever outbreak a few days before shutting down his farm and culling some 48,000 pigs.
Romania had the first swine fever case at the end of July 2018 and the European Union warned the local authorities that they didn’t do enough to stop the virus from spreading. However, despite the high risks, the head of the institution in charge with veterinary control in Romania – ANSVSA, Geronimo Branescu, called off the annual control that veterinary doctors do each year at local peasants’ farms due to lack of funds, according to Libertatea. Moreover, the ANSVSA didn’t take measures to stop wild boar from entering Romania from neighboring countries such as Ukraine and failed to inform the population about the risk.
Another investigation, by Recorder.ro, shows that the ANSVSA head is friends with the owner of the biggest provider of disinfectants used for combatting the virus. The same firm, Farmavet, also provided large quantities of disinfectants used against the bird flu outbreak in 2005, although one of these disinfectants hadn’t been tested against the virus.
Eight of Romania’s 41 counties have been affected by the swine fever so far and the virus has been spreading at an alarming pace.
Swine fever is a disease that affects pigs but has no effects on human health. The virus has high mortality rates in infected pig populations, causing big economic losses.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea)