The Food and Agriculture Organization warns of a likely upsurge of the African swine fever for pig producers in the Caucasus region and Russian Federation and urged affected countries to step up precautionary measures.

The agency also called for a concerted international effort to prevent the infection spreading more widely across the Northern Hemisphere.

“African swine fever is fast becoming a global issue,” said Juan Lubroth, FAO’s chief veterinary officer.

Speaking in Rome on May 26, Lubroth said that the disease posed an immediate threat to Europe and beyond. “Countries need to be on the alert and to strengthen their preparedness and contingency plans.”

There is currently no vaccine for the disease, which is very often lethal to pigs but is not harmful to humans. Preventive strategies include quarantine, on-farm security and other measures aimed at minimizing the risk of African swine fever being introduced and becoming established.

Early-warning contingency plans include epidemiological information-gathering, training and awareness campaigns.