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ZAGREB (Croatia), August 15 (SeeNews) - Croatia's agriculture ministry said it has adopted precautionary measures following reports of suspected outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) among backyard pigs in neighbouring Serbia.
"After Serbia has officially confirmed the occurrence of African swine fever (ASF), the preventive measures in Croatia have been stepped up," the agriculture ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The measures aim to preserve Croatia's status as an ASF-free country, as well as to provide for the early detection of the virus' entry in order to immediately prevent it from spreading in the country.
All pig owners in the country are called to follow the prescribed measures and report immediately any case of illness or death among pigs.
"It is of crucial importance to follow all bio-security measures in pig breeding, during hunting and during pig transportation," agriculture minister Marija Vuckovic said in the statement.
She added that it is necessary to strengthen the control at border crossings in order to prevent the illegal import of pork, which might be ASF-infected.
The ministry also warned that the occurence of ASF in Croatia would threaten the whole pig industry in the country.
Earlier this week, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) cited a report of Serbia's agriculture ministry, which said that ASF was detected in seven pigs in three villages some 60 km south of Belgrade, in the period between July 30 and August 7.
All pigs with suspected African swine fever infection in Serbia had died, while a further 114 pigs in the three villages susceptible to the disease were culled and disposed of, OIE has said, adding the source of the outbreak is unknown or inconclusive.
Following the news, Serbia's neighbours Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Montenegro banned the imports of pork from the country, according to earlier Serbian media reports.
Serbia's eastern neighbour Bulgaria has confirmed outbreaks of African swine fever in a total of six industrial pig farms in the country since July. The total number of outbreaks registered in the country is 30, while the reported cases of African swine fever in wild boars are 27, according to data published by the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency.
Romania, a neighbour of both Serbia and Bulgaria, suffered a nationwide African swine fever pandemic which prompted the slaughter of most farm pigs. Serbia's northern neighbour Hungary also confirmed African swine fever outbreaks in 2018.
The African swine fever virus does not cause disease in humans but has high mortality rates in domestic pigs. The disease, which also affects wild boars, has been spreading in Eastern Europe in recent years.