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Minister asks those travelling over the Christmas period to be aware risk of African swine fever spreading to Ireland

Today Minister Michael Creed took the opportunity to remind people again of the risk African Swine Fever (ASF) poses to the pig sector in Ireland and what those travelling over the Christmas period can do to prevent the introduction of this very serious disease into Ireland.


The Minister commented that “Anyone coming back from ASF affected countries over the Christmas holidays should not bring back pork products such as hams or salami”. The Minister went on say that “the virus that causes ASF can survive for months in cooked or cured meats which if fed to pigs accidentally or otherwise can cause the disease.” The Minister reminded all those who keep pigs, even if only one or two pigs “not to feed waste food to pigs. A simple ham sandwich, salami or meat product could bring this disease to our doorstep and it would be devastating”.


African Swine Fever continues to spread across the world. The disease kills nearly all of the pigs it affects and has serious consequences for pig farmers, meat processors and exporters in affected countries. Ten EU member states are now affected by the disease as well as many other non EU countries, including China which is one of the largest producers of pig meat in the world.  


The Minister emphasised that there is no food safety of public health risk but an outbreak of the disease would have an enormous impact on our pig industry. Ireland has almost 1.7 million pigs and pig meat exports were worth €666 million in 2018.



Notes to editors:        

What is African Swine Fever and what impact does it have?


  • 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 Poland, Lithuania. Latvia and Estonia alone, the loss to the export industry has been estimated to be in the region of $961 million.


  • The disease poses no risk for humans or other species. Pigs become infected by sniffing the carcasses of dead pigs, by eating feed products that contain the virus, or by coming in contact with clothes or boots that farmers, hunters and others have been wearing while handling infected pigs.


  • There is no cure or vaccine available for ASF and the disease is spreading across the world.


  • Since 1 January 2019, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, island of Sardinia, and Slovakia have reported ASF in both domestic pigs and wild boar. Hungary, Estonia and Belgium have reported ASF in wild boar only. In 2019 to date, Mongolia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and most recently the island nations of Philippines and East Timor have reported their first outbreaks of ASF. China has been affected by the disease since 2018.


  • Ireland is free of African Swine Fever. However, we cannot be complacent. It is vital we act together to keep this disease out of Ireland for the sake of our pigs, our pig farmers and our Agri-food Industry. Everyone has a role to play.


What can we do to stop ASF getting into Ireland?


  • Although ASF does not affect humans and meat is safe to eat, the virus can survive for months in pork and pig 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. For this reason, waste food must never be fed to pigs.


  • If you are travelling abroad, or you are a visitor to Ireland, we are asking you not to bring meat or meat products into Ireland. If meat products from non-EU countries are found in your luggage you should be aware that this could mean that you will be fined or prosecuted.


  • Food waste should never be fed to pigs or any other farm animal or be left lying around where wild animals or birds could get access to it. The recent outbreak of ASF in Belgium is suspected to have been caused by waste food being left in places where wild boar were able to get access to it. Food waste should only be disposed of in enclosed bins.


  • If you own or manage pigs, even if this is only one or two pigs, don’t put your animals or your business at risk. Never let anyone, even a family visitor, bring meat products onto your farm unless you know those meat products are safe. Don’t let anyone come in contact with your pigs if they have recently visited a country affected with ASF. Ensure your pigs are fenced in, in such a way that they cannot get access to litter or waste food that has been discarded. Know the source of equipment and machinery that is brought onto your farm and never use equipment or machinery that may have come from a country affected by ASF.


  • Hunters, and others you may have been in contact with pigs in countries affected by ASF, be aware that ASF virus can be carried on clothes and shoes, so if you have been on a hunting trip, on a farm or otherwise in contact with pigs in the countries that are affected by ASF, ensure you clean and disinfect any clothing and footwear you may have been using in that country and do not bring it onto any premises that has pigs even after it has been cleaned.



ASF Min Creed 1

Date Released: 15 December 2019