Steps are being taken to stop illegal imports of meat from coming into the UK in a bid to prevent African Swine Fever (ASF) entering the country.
Scotland’s chief vet said although the disease had never been found in the UK, it was circulating in Europe and steps to prevent it coming to this country were being ramped up.
She made the comments during a virtual meeting of the North East Scotland Advisory Group which includes representatives from industry and Aberdeenshire, Angus and Moray councils.
“It’s [African Swine Fever] a pretty nasty disease,” Ms Voas told the meeting.
“There is no vaccine for it and there is no treatment for it, so we are very much focused on trying to keep it out.”
She said there were significant problems with the disease in eastern European countries – including Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – and it has now spread to Germany.
“Wild boar are quite effective in spreading the disease around, and it can also be spready by ticks as well as direct contact,” added Ms Voas.
“Some of the bigger pig producing nations have put up some sizeable fences to try and stop wild boar moving it into their territories.”
However, the main concern for disease spread, and in particular disease spread into the UK, was the potential for ASF to be introduced to British pigs through contaminated meat.
Ms Voas said: “The virus will survive in contaminated meat for a very long periods of time,; it also survives freezing as well.
“The worry is that the meat comes into the UK or Scotland from an infected pig and some how or another it finds its way into our domestic pig population.”
Ms Voas said sniffer dogs were now being deployed at airports across Scotland to check passengers for illegal meat, which could be carrying ASF into the country, and efforts would be stepped up to discourage people from taking meat back from their overseas visits.