Date: Thu 1 Mar 2012
Source: Interfax.com - Ukraine's economic news [summ. edited]
The State Veterinary and Biosecurity Service of Ukraine from 1 Mar 2012 temporarily suspended imports from Belarus of milk and dairy products and animals susceptible to African swine fever (ASF), as well as products made of them.
The State Veterinary and Biosecurity Service said that on 16 Feb 2012, in the settlement of Neznanovo in Belarus, all of the pigs at private households were killed and burnt. According to the statements of the Belarusian Agriculture Ministry and the veterinary and biosecurity control department, however, the above-mentioned actions were carried out as part of an exercise on how to fight ASF.
"Taking into account the fact that Belarus is a member of the Customs Union, which implies the absence of customs and veterinary controls when passing the Russian border, where a difficult situation with ASF has been seen for the past 5 years, and taking into consideration the large number of ASF outbreaks in the central federal area of Russia last year  (near the border with Belarus), there is a chance that the case in Neznanovo is linked to an outbreak of ASF in Belarus," the Ukrainian service said.
The service also said that if ASF came to Ukraine, grain exports could be banned, and a large number of pigs might have to be killed. Restrictive measures that would cause negative economic consequences would be taken.
"The situation in Russia and uncertainty with ASF in Belarus creates a threat to Ukraine's biosecurity," the service said.
Date: 21 Feb 2012
Source: TUT.BY (Belarusian portal) [machine-trans. summarised, edited]
Today [21 Feb 2012], the Ministry of Agriculture published on its website a comment addressing the mass destruction of pigs in a village in the Novogrudok Neznanova area.
The notice says: "On 16-18 Feb 2012, surprise regional exercises under realistic conditions were conducted in the Novogrudok and Korelichy districts of the Grodno region. Concrete actions and preventive measures were applied. In view of the results of the exercises, it could be concluded all joint actions functioned well, which is indicative of full readiness and all tasks fully accomplished."
On 16 Feb 2012, all pigs owned by the inhabitants of the village Neznanova in the Novogrudok district, Grodno region were collected and burned. This message was received via Twitter@TUT.BY and was confirmed by the villagers; so far, local authorities and the veterinary station refused to comment. According to villagers, a local farmer had cases of disease in the autumn ; he got rid of the pigs and did not inform the veterinary office. According to the farmers, the culling in Neznanova was carried out since "an outbreak of plague has been found."
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, earlier simulation exercises in Belarus had been undertaken:
- on 17-18 Jun 2011 in the Gomel region (joint international exercise to test the veterinary services of the joint action emergency response in case of FMD)
- on 16-17 Dec 2011 in the Mogilev region and 27-28 Jan 2012 in the Vitebsk region, to practise emergency response in case of African swine fever.
"These exercises were conducted at the national level, and their execution was notified to the veterinary services of neighboring countries and the OIE as well as the media and was attended by international observers."
[OIE's WAHID (World Animal Health Information System) maintains, on its website, a page entitled: "Disease introduction simulation exercises". This page is used to disseminate information on the web and announcements received from members on disease introduction simulation exercises taking place in their countries; see at
These simulation exercises are also disseminated to OIE's delegates and to the subscribers of the OIE-Info Distribution List before their implementation.
During 2011, 25 member-countries submitted notifications on their contemplated simulation exercises, 5 of which addressed ASF (namely Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Spain, and Denmark).
The Lithuanian exercise was notified in advance by the State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS), Ministry of Agriculture, Vilnius, Lithuania. The text was the following: "A simulation exercise on African swine fever, avian influenza, bluetongue, classical swine fever, foot and mouth disease, Newcastle disease, and swine vesicular disease is taking place on 23 Nov 2011 in Vilnius. This exercise includes theoretical training of the personnel of SFVS of Lithuania with the aim of applying emergency measures in compliance with the contingency plans for the above mentioned diseases."
The Danish exercise was carried out cooperatively with the other Baltic and Nordic countries (Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden). A description of the extensive Danish/Baltic/Nordic exercise, carried out from 11 to 13 Oct 2011, can be found in ProMED-mail posting 20111023.3163. The aims and means of each exercise can be studied in the above URL; to the best of our knowledge, none of them included destruction of live animals. As a recent example, see Colombia's announcement, disseminated on 29 Feb 2012, entitled: "Simulation exercise: swine disease in Colombia". It deals with Colombia's plan to carry out a simulation exercise which "will take place in the city of Ipiales, Narino Department, from 5 to 8 Mar 2012"; see at
The text of the Belarus announcement, distributed on 26 Jan 2012 to OIE's delegates and to the subscribers of the OIE-Info Distribution List, was the following:
"Simulation exercise: African swine fever in Belarus. Dr Yury Pivovarchik, chief veterinary officer, Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Belarus, Minsk informed the OIE that a simulation exercise on African swine fever (ASF) is taking place in the base of the Dubrovensky district in the Vitebsk region, Belarus from 27 to 28 Jan 2012. The aim of this exercise is to perfect the joint activities of the emergency response to be implemented in case of an ASF outbreak."
The said notification is available at
>. The other, earlier (2011) Belarus exercises mentioned in the above (2011) could not be found on OIE's website.
Destruction ("burning?" Not preceded by slaughter?) of pigs within the framework of simulation exercises is most unusual; in fact, we are unaware of similar "simulated" measures elsewhere. Taking all that into consideration, the Ukrainian concerns and their response can be understood.
Clarification and additional information from informed sources, particularly about any available clinical or laboratory investigations and their results, would be appreciated. - ProMed Mod.AS]