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What is African Swine Fever? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Found in multiple countries around the world, African Swine Fever is described by news and animal care websites as the biggest animal disease outbreak the world has ever seen. But what is the African swine fever? Is it a food safety concern? Read on to learn about the disease.

African Swine Fever 101

The year 2020 has seen the African swine fever spread through China, Mongolia and Vietnam, as well as within parts of the European Union. While humans are battling the global crisis that is Covid-19, pigs, both domestic and wild, are in a fight against another global threat.

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious viral disease that affects pigs. The disease is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • high fever
  • depression
  • lethargy
  • anorexia
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • red, blotchy skin or skin lesions
  • coughing and difficulty breathing

Although they share a similar set of symptoms, it’s important to know that ASF is not the same ailment as Classical Swine Fever (CSF). The latter is caused by a different virus for which a vaccine already exists.

Both wild and domestic pigs can be affected by ASF. Caused by a virus, the methods of transmission include the following:

  • direct contact with an infected pig (alive or dead)
  • indirect contact through ingestion of contaminated material such as food waste or feed; or through pests such as ticks

News and findings say that ASF has a case fatality rate of almost 100 percent. Currently, there is no approved vaccine for the disease. To prevent the spread of infection, animals are culled, and this leads to great losses in the meat market.

African Swine Fever: a Food Safety Concern?

African swine fever only impacts pigs, and is not a risk to human health. Experts assure the public that ASF is not a public threat. It cannot be transmitted to humans through contact with pigs or pork, hence, there’s no need to stop cooking and eating pork.

Preventing African Swine Fever

Again, there is no approved vaccine for ASF. That’s why prevention is important. In some countries that are free of the disease, import policies and biosecurity measures are observed. These set of guidelines, which you may also implement on your farm, ensure that infected live pigs or pork products are kept out.

  • All incoming pigs should pass through quarantine.
  • Secure the farm entrance. Make sure wild animals such as boars are kept from entering.
  • Physical barriers should be set up around the premises of the farm.
  • Limit all visits. If necessary, ensure that the visitor cleans up and disinfects before entering.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect, from the pig pen to the borders of the farm.

When a pig is showing signs of African swine fever, it would be best to report this to the nearest veterinary clinic or animal care center.

Read more features on pig and poultry care, and farm tips from UNAHCO.

Sources:

https://www.oie.int/en/animal-health-in-the-world/animal-diseases/african-swine-fever/

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/swine-disease-information/african-swine-fever

http://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/FastFacts/pdfs/african_swine_fever_F.pdf

https://www.theseo-biosecurity.com/en/african-swine-fever-biosecurity-measures-set

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