Diplomatic row over African swine fever

Picnicking Romanian tourists have been blamed for spreading the deadly haemorrhagic disease by the Bulgarian prime minister.

As the UK launches a campaign to prevent tourists bringing African swine fever (ASF) into the UK via infected meat, a diplomatic row on the same subject has broken out between Bulgaria and Romania.

Bulgaria’s prime minister, Boyko Borissov, has accused Romanian tourists of bringing the disease in the country and helping to spread it, according to local media.

Discarded food

Mr Borissov is reported to have said: “There are 57,000 cars crossing from Romania each day into Bulgaria. I’m sure the Romanian tourists brought the disease.

“They eat on the side of the road, throw the food remains that help spread the swine disease. They are walking around, eating and throwing the remains all over the place.

“There’s nothing we can do.”

Highly contagious

Nearly 130,000 pigs have been killed in Bulgaria over the past two weeks in a bid to stamp out the fatal, highly contagious, haemorrhagic disease.

In Romania, 300 new outbreaks were reported in July.

Poster campaign

The ASF virus survives “incredibly well” in pork meat, and can survive for months in smoked, dried and cured meats – and “likely years” in frozen meat – according to UK CVO Christine Middlemiss.

A new poster campaign at UK airports and ports aims to raise awareness of the dangers bringing infected meat products into the country and increased baggage checks are being conducted.