Authorities Restrict Free Rural Movement Due to African Swine Fever

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Stock photo by TASR

Kosice, June 16 (TASR) – Agriculture Minister Jan Micovsky (OLaNO) stated at a briefing on Tuesday on the current situation regarding the African swine fever virus (ASFV) in Slovakia that due to the spread of the infection in the country, people will be prohibited from hiking outside designated routes in the countryside in selected districts of eastern and central Slovakia over the next few days.

At the same time, the minister called on hunters to switch to higher gears in terms of wild boar hunting.

According to State Veterinary and Food Administration (SPVS) executive director Jozef Bires, the ASFV situation in Slovakia is dire, especially near the border with Hungary, where veterinary authorities have recorded approximately 1,500 infected wild boars. Bires noted that while SPVS doesn’t intend to close off certain forests completely, it’s opted to restrict people’s movement within these areas, which also includes a ban on mushroom picking.

Bires went on to say that people can unknowingly spread the virus on their shoes or bicycle wheels, for example, as the virus can survive three to six months in a wild boar carcass.
According to Micovsky, the recent discovery of a dead infected boar in the immediate surroundings of Kosice indicates that the situation will develop at a rather dramatic pace. ASFV-positive boars were found only in neighbouring districts further to the east of Kosice until recently.

“It’s a very serious viral infection, which is encircling Slovakia. The circle is tightening, and we have a reason to express our very serious concerns regarding what will happen when the virus breaches the state borders,” said Micovsky.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, the virus is closing in on Slovakia mainly from Hungary, Ukraine and Poland and poses a great risk to domestic pigs. The first case of ASFV in Slovakia was registered in eastern Slovakia on the border with Hungary in July 2019.