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African Swine Fever

African Swine Fever

African swine fever (ASF) is a viral disease of pigs and wild boar that is usually fatal. The disease can result in devastating losses for pig farmers and the pig industry in affected countries. There is no cure or vaccine availablefor ASF and the disease is spreading across the world. Within the last two years the disease has spread to a number of previously unaffected countries in Europe and Asia, including China which has over half of the world’s total pig population.

Ireland is free of African swine fever and it is in all of our interests to keep it that way as an outbreak of the disease would have a huge impact on the Irish pig industry here.

Although ASF does not affect humans or other animal species and meat from pigs does not pose any food safety risk, the virus can survive for months or even years in pork and pork meat products including cured meats, hams, sausages and salamis etc. If pigs eat food waste that contains infected meat it will cause an outbreak of the disease.

Pig farmers including those with only one or two pigs must be vigilant and ensure that their pigs are protected. They should follow the specific biosecurity guidlines below:

Biosecurity Advice for Farmers Importing Livestock

Remember it is illegal to feed food waste containing meat to farm animals as it can spread African swine fever as well as other diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease.

Members of the public can also play their part by taking the following precautions:

  • Do not bring meat products into Ireland from outside the EU
  • Do not bring meat or meat products onto Irish pig farms
  • Always use a secure bin to dispose of waste food, so that it cannot be accessed by farm animals, wild animals or wild birds.

It is vital that everybody plays their part to keep African swine fever out of Ireland for the sake of our pigs, our pig farmers and our Agri-food Industry.

For further information please see below topics below

AFRICAN SWINE FEVER – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. What is African swine fever?
African swine fever (ASF) is a severe, usually fatal viral disease of pigs and wild boar. It is caused by the African swine fever virus. It was first discovered in Kenya in 1921 and is endemic in large parts of Africa. The disease has been spreading in Eastern Europe since it first entered the European Union in 2014.* The disease has now spread to a total of 9 EU Member States including Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and more recently Belgium. ASF was also confirmed in China for the first time in August 2018.

2. Has ASF ever been detected in Ireland?
No the disease has never been detected in Ireland and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) takes measures to ensure that it does not enter the Irish pig herd.

3. Does ASF affect humans or other animals?
ASF does not affect humans. The virus only affects domestic pigs, wild boar, warthogs, and other members of the pig family. It does not affect any other animal species.

4. How is the disease spread?
The virus can spread in numerous ways. Direct contact between infected pigs or bodily fluids from pigs, and indirect contact through feeding food waste containing contaminated pork or pork products are the most likely methods of spreading the virus. Contaminated clothing, vehicles and equipment are also possible sources of the virus. In some countries, the disease can be spread by a soft tick (Ornithodorus spp.). This tick is not found in Ireland.

5. How does the disease affect pigs?
The virus has an incubation period of 5 -15 days. Symptoms of ASF are usually severe and include sudden death, haemorrhages, high temperature, vomiting, diarrhoea and abortion in pregnant animals. The disease is fatal in almost all pigs that become infected. Occasionally, particularly in countries where ASF is widespread, chronic cases of ASF can occur.

6. How is African swine fever diagnosed?
Because ASF can look like other severe diseases of pigs, it is diagnosed by taking blood and tissue samples from affected animals and testing them for the presence of antibodies to the ASF virus and for the virus itself. Tests used include ELISA or indirect antibody fluorescent test for antibody detection or viral antigen detection using polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

7. Is there a cure for African swine fever or can pigs be vaccinated against it?
There is no cure for the disease and currently there is no vaccine available.
Page 2 of 3 (2018)

8. What should I do if I suspect my pigs might have African swine fever?
ASF is a notifiable disease under Irish law which means that if someone suspects that a pig they own or care for may be affected with ASF they must report this to their private vet or to their local DAFM Regional Veterinary Office without delay. Local offices can be contacted at: http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/contact/.
Alternatively DAFM can be contacted out of hours via the animal disease hotline: 1850 200 456

9. What happens if there is an outbreak of African swine fever here?
All pigs on a premises where ASF has been confirmed will be culled humanely and their carcasses destroyed. This is a requirement of the EU legislation on ASF (Council Directive 2002/60/EC, as amended). Following that, an investigation will be carried out to establish where the disease came from and the likelihood of the virus spreading to other farms or premises. Restrictions will also be put in place preventing the movement of anything from the infected premises that might spread the disease to other animals and premises (e.g. vehicles, equipment).
Restriction zones will also be set up around the infected premises in order to contain the disease and reduce the risk of spread. These zones are known as protection and surveillance zones and they will usually be 3km and 10km in diameter respectively. Monitoring and sampling of pigs on farms within these zones will be carried out as well as restrictions on any activities that may spread the disease to other animals or farms.

10. Why is African swine fever important?
African swine fever is important because it causes severe disease (illness and death) in pigs and there is no cure or vaccine available. In a country like Ireland that is currently free from the disease, an outbreak would also have significant implications for trade in pigs, pork meat and pork products. In addition an outbreak would require the implementation of stringent controls to deal with the disease and prevent its spread. These measures would have significant, direct costs and they are likely to have serious impact on the pig industry here.

11. How can the general public help to prevent African swine fever from entering Ireland?
Never bring home pork or pork products if travelling abroad to regions affected by African swine fever. The ASF virus can survive for a several months in pork and pork products such as sausages, cured meats, smoked meats etc. It can also survive in chilled and frozen meat for a very long time. Food waste containing meat or that has been in contact with meat (i.e. any kitchen waste) should never be fed to pigs. It is illegal and can spread a number of pig diseases in addition to ASF e.g. Foot and mouth disease. If you have visited a pig holding in an infected or high risk area for ASF avoid visiting any Irish farms that have pigs for at least 3 days upon your return.

12. How can farmers prevent the introduction of African swine fever into their farms?
Strict biosecurity measures should be implemented at farm level to prevent the entry of ASF into your farm in addition to the measures described above for members of the public. Advice is available in the biosecurity leaflet for keepers of non-intensive and pet pigs. For more intensive pig farms Teagasc have produced a biosecurity booklet entitled Biosecurity Procedures for Visitors to Pig Units in Ireland. Also farmers should be aware of the clinical signs of ASF and report any suspicion of the disease to their private veterinarian or the DAFM Local Regional Veterinary Office or headquarters at (01) 6072000 or to the out of hours animal disease hotline at 1850 200 456.
Page 3 of 3 (2018)

13. Where can I get more information on African swine fever?
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine website is a good resource for information on African swine fever. Internationally, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) monitors disease outbreaks and provides technical information on important notifiable diseases. The European Commission is responsible for surveillance and control of certain important infectious animal diseases within the EU.
January 2019

*The disease has also been reported in Sardinia for many years.

Useful Links to Information on African Swine Fever

  • DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs UK)

African swine fever: how to spot and report the disease - GOV.UK

  • DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Northern Ireland)

African Swine Fever | Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

  • European Commission DG SANCO

Disease Information and Control Plans
African Swine Fever - European Commission

  • Animal Disease Notification System – contains a link to overview reports which are updated frequently

Animal Disease Notification System (ADNS) - European Commission

  • World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

Disease Information Card
http://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Animal_Health_in_the_World/docs/pdf/Disease_cards/AFRICAN_SWINE_FEVER.pdf

  • Disease Outbreak Map

http://www.oie.int/wahis_2/public/wahid.php/Diseaseinformation/Diseaseoutbreakmaps