African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious disease of swine with the potential to infect domesticated hogs, warthogs, European wild boar and American wild pigs. The virus has the capability to manifest with a wide range of clinical signs and lesions. It can spread very rapidly in pig populations. The virus is found in all body fluids and tissues. ASF cannot be differentiated from classical swine fever by either clinical or postmortem examination.
There are some areas of the world where ASF is endemic, including countries of sub-Saharan Africa. It is also found in areas of Asia, Europe, Russia, China and Vietnam. Pigs become infected by direct contact with infected pigs or by ingestion of unprocessed infected pig meat or products, including frozen meats. Biting flies, ticks, contaminated farms, and fomites can also spread the virus.
There are no treatments or vaccines available. Control and eradication of the disease is based on identification of infected animals through surveillance, removal of infected herds, and preventing exposure of additional herds.
ASF does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans.
Strict biosecurity measures are essential to prevent the introduction and spread of the virus. The Board, federal agencies and industry partners are preparing for the potential introduction of this disease in this country. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has the following safeguards in place to reduce the risk of introduction into the United States:
- Import restrictions on pork and pork products.
- Increased vigilance from Customs and Border Protection staff at ports of entry, paying particular attention to passengers and products arriving from China.
- Increased collaboration with states that allow garbage feeding to ensure the swine industry follows best practices and encourages testing of sick pigs in these garbage feeders to include ASF.
- Increased messaging to industry partners to raise awareness of the direct biosecurity concerns with foreign visitors to domestic swine operations.
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is approved to test for ASF. The Board supports the VDL in its efforts to better prepare for this disease, which include expanding the types of samples which may be used for diagnosis.