First case of African swine fever confirmed in Germany

The Agriculture Ministry confirmed on Thursday that the corpse of a wild boar found in Brandenburg was infected with African swine fever, making it the first known case in Germany.

First case of African swine fever confirmed in Germany
A wild boar in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

The discovery is likely to result in the district on the Polish border where the animal was found being classified as an “exclusion zone”, meaning all pigs and pork products in the district will no longer be allowed to leave.

Swine fever is not dangerous to humans as it is not a zoonosis, a disease which can be transmitted from animals to the human population.

But it is highly infectious and fatal for boars and domesticated pigs. It first arrived in Europe in 2007 and has been spreading slowly through the east of the continent ever since.

There is currently no vaccine against the disease.

If the disease were to spread into the agricultural swine sector this could have a harmful impact on exports, as China, the largest pork market in the world, currently buys large quantities of pork from Germany. 

China stops importing pork from countries that are no longer classified as “disease free.”

The discovery comes after authorities had believed that the disease, which has been endemic in Poland for several years, had moved further away from the German border.

Until this month the closest case to the German border had been found 10 kilometres east on the Polish side.

For Germany, the spread of the disease through wild boar poses a particular problem due to the size of the country’s boar population.

Authorities in Brandenburg and Saxony have put up electric fences on the border to Poland in order to try and prevent the virus from spreading into Germany.

READ ALSO: Boar-lin: Why wild boars are being sighted more in the capital

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Swan Late: Mourning bird holds up German trains

A swan mourning the death of its companion on a German railway track held up 23 trains for almost an hour and had to be removed by firefighters using special equipment, police said.

Swan Late: Mourning bird holds up German trains
A swan sat on the tracks, mourning its companion. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Bundespolizei/Bundespolizei

The two birds had strayed onto the track area of the high-speed line between Kassel and Göttingen in central Germany “during an excursion”, according to Kassel police.

One of the birds died, likely after getting caught in the overhead power cables, said the statement on the December 23rd incident, which was made public late on Monday.

Its companion then sat beside the body in mourning, resisting attempts by officials to lure it away and temporarily closing the line to traffic.

Firefighters with special equipment were later called in and managed to lift the dead swan and its surviving companion away from the area.

Twenty-three trains were delayed for about 50 minutes while the rescue operation took place, the police statement said.

The surviving swan was unharmed and later released onto the river Fulda, it

According to Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, swans try to find a mate for life.