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Traces of African Swine Fever picked up in UK after illegal meat seized

The findings, in more than 300 kilograms of illegal meat and dairy products, were detected in passenger luggage last month (June) and tests by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Belfast, confirmed traces of the virus.

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source: DAERA
source: DAERA
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Traces of African Swine Fever picked up in UK after illegal meat seized at NI airports

DNA fragments of African Swine Fever (ASF) have been found in the UK for the first time following the seizure of illegally imported meat at Northern Ireland’s airports.

 

The findings, in more than 300 kilograms of illegal meat and dairy products, were detected in passenger luggage last month (June) and tests by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Belfast, confirmed traces of the virus.

 

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said while the findings did not pose a significant threat to the disease free status from ASF in Northern Ireland, it reinforced the importance of controls on personal imports of meat and dairy products.

 

The virus has been causing devastation in a number of countries including China, Russia, Romania and Poland.


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The risk to Northern Ireland has steadily increased to the recent spread of ASF in Belgium.

 

DAERA chief veterinary officer Dr Robert Huey said any illegal products brought into the border would be seized and destroyed.

 

“Furthermore anyone detected in possession of prohibited items risks prosecution and a fine,” he said. “So please do not bring any of these products back to Northern Ireland.”

 

Chief executive of the National Pig Association (NPA) Zoe Davies said the revelation highlighted just how vulnerable the UK pig herd was to ASF infection.

 

Illegal

She said it was critical the UK did ‘everything in our powers’ to keep infection out of the country, reiterating that feeding meat and waste food to pigs was illegal.

 

She said: “We have always maintained that the biggest threat to the UK pig herd is from infected meat products that are illegally brought in from infected regions that then find their way into the UK pig herd or feral boar population.

“We are encouraging producers to put up clear signage on footpaths and other areas of public access close to pig units warning the public not to feed pigs.”

 

It follows a move by Defra to step up its efforts to keep ASF out of the UK through the introduction of a new poster campaign at point of entry.

 

The department is also working with Border Force on improving its work in targeting and seizing illegally imported meat products from high-risk areas.

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