YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—More than a thousand pigs have died or been slaughtered in Armenia in recent months because of a fresh outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF), a senior government official said on Wednesday.
Grigor Baghian, the head of the State Food Security and Veterinary Inspectorate, said the first cases of the disease, which rarely occurs outside Africa, were registered last March in several villages in the northern Lori and Tavush regions.
Baghian told reporters that regional veterinary services quickly responded to the emergency and have reported no fresh cases in those areas since then. “However, there have been disease outbreaks in Yerevan and the Aragatsotn, Shirak and Kotayk regions,” he said.
Armenia was already hit by an ASF outbreak in August 2007. Authorities quarantined the affected communities and culled more than 20,000 pigs in the following months.
According to Baghian, the latest outbreak has been less serious so far, and the Armenian government is therefore in no rush to order similarly drastic measures against a further spread of the disease. Accordingly, he said, it has yet to decide whether to compensate farmers affected by it.
“It is still too early to talk about that,” added the government official. “The disease is still going on, and calculations are being done.”
Some 15,000 Armenian farmers received financial compensation from the government for the loss of livestock in 2008. No such compensation was paid by commercial pork farms.
The first ASF outbreak in Armenia, presumably coming from neighboring Georgia, led Russia to temporarily ban imports of Armenian meat. Even though the disease is thought to pose little danger to humans, it also cut domestic consumption of pork.