The German federal state of Brandenburg has begun putting up a fence along its border with Poland in an attempt to prevent wild boar from spreading African swine fever (ASF).

According to Der Tagesspiegel, mobile fences of a combined length of 120 kilometres are being erected on flood plains along the Oder and Neisse rivers, which act as the border between Brandenburg and Poland. The 90-centimetre-high fences will cost around 160,000 euro, reports Handelsblatt.

Ursula Nonnemacher, the state’s health and consumer protection minister, said “In the fight against African swine fever we should not leave any solution untried”. The minister said that this was just one of numerous measures being implemented to contain the “extremely dynamic” plague.

The World Organisation for Animal Health describes  ASF as “a severe viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs” which “can be spread by live or dead pigs” as well as “pork products… [or] contaminated feed and non-living objects”.

Last month, 20 wild boars were found to be infected with the disease in the Lubusz province, the first cases to have been found in western Poland. The epidemic is thought to have originated in eastern Poland, where some 2,000 animals were infected.

In January, the government announced a controversial cull of more than 200,000 wild boars, which was deemed to have been a success until the recent outbreak in the west.

Further infected boars were found in December. According to Poland’s Chief Veterinarian, there are currently 53 cases in the west of Poland, most of them in Lubusz province. Forests around the city of Zielona Góra have been closed to the public, and hunters instructed to kill wild boar there.

Polish agriculture minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski has said that Poland is sparing no expense in its own efforts to contain the epidemic, having already erected 100 kilometres of fences. “These are huge costs. We’re combing the forests, culling boars, searching for carcasses.”

The minister, quoted by TVP Info, also expressed his surprise at the spread of the disease to western regions. “It seemed we had the matter under control. And suddenly we have concentrations of sick boars in Western Poland. We need to determine where this virus came from. After all, it couldn’t be infected boars 330 km away. Perhaps it came to us by chance.”

Main image credit: Artur Andrzej/Wikimedia Commons (under CC BY-SA 3.0)

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