Want to keep diseases at bay? Curb illegal meat imports; These importations can be as innocent as a visitor from eastern Europe bringing along some home-made sausage, vet warnsOntario Farmer Tue Apr 3 2018 Page: A17 Section: News Byline: Harry Siemens Source: Ontario Farmer International livestock consultant and now a senior lecturer with James Cook University in Queensland, Australia Dr. John Carr told producers and industry representatives at the 2018 Manitoba Swine Seminar in Winnipeg, MB the best protection against the spread of African Swine Fever increased awareness of the dangers of illegal imports of meat.African Swine Fever virus causes hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in pigs.In 2007, the infection found its way from Kenya to the former Soviet republic of Georgia and since has spread to Russia into Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic States, into Poland, Moldavia, Romania and the Czech Republic.Carr said this had left major pork producing and consuming nations in Europe and Asia including Germany, Denmark, and China at risk. Every time African Swine Fever hit the Americas, the industry was able to eliminate it.”If Canada gets a case I would expect that the very professional Canadian veterinary services would get on it very hard and get rid of it. I don’t lose sleep at night worrying about the Canadian industry because of ASF,” he said.”Likewise the British herd, because we’re an island…we have less movement of meat across from the continent. But, as the Czech Republic showed in the latest outbreak, distance is not necessarily an issue.””It doesn’t stop the problem if you allow the importation, illegal or whatever, of potentially contaminated meat.”As more herds are becoming contaminated in Russia, and there’s more contamination in Europe the risk to Canada increases because of tourism and farm workers and stockmen coming from some of these countries.Carr encouraged North American producers to talk to staff, especially if they are from eastern Europe, and make sure they are aware that pork products from home should not be brought back to North America.All pork products should stay off the farms and especially not be fed to pigs.”When looking at the outbreak and its spread, particularly in the Czech Republic, an outbreak that’s a thousand kilometers from Ukraine, the most obvious source,” he said. “I suspect, without proof, what happened is that some person drove from Ukraine, he’s bought some fantastic Ukrainian pork, eating it as he drives.””Next, he gets into the Czech Republic, has finished the sausage roll and throws the leftover piece out the window.”Along comes a Czech wild boar and eats that piece and unfortunately, this ASF had infected that portion.Whether accidentally or not, this occurred because of some accidental importation of an infected product, quite innocently, potentially by a member of the public, said Carr.It could happen in Canada if, a Ukrainian farm worker stuffs some of his mother’s sausage in his suitcase before leaving his home country but eats it in Canada, most likely on the farm, and it becomes positive, he suggests.Carr encouraged all Canadian pig farmers to educate staff not to bring pork products to the farm.”Pork products need to stay at home, they have no place on the pig farm. So that eliminates an enormous amount of risk in one fell swoop,” he said.Canada’s number one protection is the Border Patrol, and the industry needs to encourage border staff to put up more signs and make it more evident that Canada does not allow meat and fruit products into Canada.