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Tips to Prepare for African Swine Fever

Jul 31, 2019

African Swine Fever Virus, commonly-referred to as “ASF”, is a deadly disease in pigs that originated in the wild boar population in Africa. The disease had been exclusive to the African sub-Sarahan area for many years. However, the virus was introduced to domestic pigs in the regions of Europe and Asia in 2007. In early 2018, the virus really started to move when it was detected in China for the first time. It has since spread further into Asia including the countries of Mongolia, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

To date, ASF has not infected any pigs in the United States; therefore, it is considered a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD). The intent of our nation is to keep ASF out through measures of intense border protection, extremely-heightened biosecurity, and timely communication. These practices are critical in remaining ASF-free in the U.S. because our country would suffer severe economic losses should our herds become infected. In fact, estimates of about 16.5 billion dollars would be lost if the U.S. were to contract the deadly disease.  
ASF disease can be found in domestic pigs, wild boar, warthogs, bush pigs, and giant forest hogs and can range in virulence from mild to high. The strain that is currently migrating through Eurasia in all swine species is highly-virulent and will cause high mortality, as much as 100%. It is important to be aware of what clinical signs of the disease look like in a pig:
  • High Fever
  • Red blotchy skin or skin lesions
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weakness
  • Labored breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden death
It is also important to note that symptoms of ASF can look very similar to symptoms of other common swine diseases already prevalent in U.S. swine herds.

ASF is highly systemic, meaning it is virulent throughout the entire body of the pig and will shed in all secretions and excretions from the pig. In other words, infected pigs will shed virus that can infect healthy pigs. The hardy nature of the virus allows it to survive in imperfect environments including a varying range of temperatures, Ph levels, and even in meat that has been cured.  It can also survive on or in equipment, feed ingredients, clothing, vehicles, and soft ticks. These modes of transfer allow the virus to spread easily. Though pigs can transfer ASF to other pigs; the disease CANNOT be spread from pigs to people. In fact, there is no evidence that says ASF is a concern to human health or that consuming pork is unsafe.

Research is currently being done to create a vaccine for ASF. However, due to the large molecular size of the virus, it is understood that making an effective vaccine won’t be timely and it may not even be possible. Furthermore, there is no effective treatment to rid the ASF virus.

Clearly, African Swine Fever is wreaking havoc in the sine herds of other countries and costing economic losses in order of magnitude. It is in our best interest to maintain an ASF-free status by practicing robust biosecurity. Here are 10 tips to bulk up your current biosecurity plan:

1. Request a PIN # or verify PIN # to match physical address of site.
2. Assign a biosecurity manager.
3. Write enhanced biosecurity plan.
4. Define Perimeter Buffer Area.
5. Define Line of Separation.
6. Train caretakers in enhanced biosecurity and Foreign Animal Disease awareness.
7. Train caretakers in collecting oral fluid, nasal swabs, and blood and keep the following items on hand:
  • Vacutainer tubes
  • Bleeding hub
  • Blood-collect needles
  • Black permanent marker
  • Saliva collecting kit (mop strands, plastic baggies, plastic tubes)
  • Nasal swabs
  • Ice
  • Cooler
8. Keep movement records of animals, people, equipment, and feed.
9. Monitor pig health closely.
10. Use proper disinfectants proven to kill ASF virus:
  • Virkon S (Manufacturer: Lanxess Corporation)
  • Clearon Bleach Tablets (Manufacturer: Clearon Corp.)
  • Klor-Kleen (Manufacturer: Medentech Ltd.)
  • Klorsept (Manufacturer: Medentech Ltd.)
  • Klorkleen 2 (Manufacturer: Medentech Ltd.)
*A detailed enhanced biosecurity plan and checklist can be found at or contact CFE for assistance in creating a plan.


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