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South Africa reports swine fever outbreak outside of control zones

New cases of African swine fever confirmed by South African agriculture ministry, Reuters reports.

11 April 2019, at 10:17a.m.

South Africa has detected an outbreak of African swine fever on a farm in North West province, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Wednesday (10 April), citing a report from the South African agriculture ministry.

The outbreak killed 32 out of a herd of 36 pigs on a farm in the Ditsobotla district, with the remaining animals slaughtered, the report said.

The outbreak occurred outside South Africa's control zone for the disease and may be linked to contact with wild animals.

The disease is incurable in pigs but harmless to humans. It has spread across China since last year, causing major losses to the world's largest hog herd.

Clinical signs of ASF

  • High fever 40-42°C.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Depression.
  • Lethargic- sometimes refusal to stand or move.
  • Very unsteady when stood up.
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea with bloody discharge.
  • White skinned pigs: extremities (nose, ears, tail and lower legs) become cyanotic (blue-purple colour).
  • Discrete haemorrhages appear in the skin particularly on the ears and flanks.
  • Group will huddle together and are usually shivering.
  • Abnormal breathing.
  • Heavy discharge from eyes and/or nose.
  • Comatose state and death within a few days.
  • Some pigs can show conjunctivitis with reddening of the conjunctival mucosa and ocular discharges.

Pregnant sows commonly undergo miscarriage or deliver stillborn piglets that are malformed – piglets can be tested for the virus.

Mortality rate in infected groups of pigs is high and there is no vaccination proven to prevent or cure infection, therefore, it is crucial that control begins on-farm.

Prevention

There is no live or attenuated vaccine for the prevention of ASF therefore control of the virus is reliant on strict biosecurity.

  • Do not feed domestic pigs food waste; this is illegal in the UK, other EU regions and some states within the US
  • Where ‘permitted garbage feeding’ is legal in US states, pigs fed this way are prohibited from exportation.
  • Do not leave food waste exposed for wild swine species to access. Dispose of food waste properly.
  • Abide by strict biosecurity rules. Do not take pig meat onto farms, or restrict all food (and consumption of food) to a canteen. All staff on farm should be inducted onto a strict programme of hand and equipment sanitisation before and after contact with pigs.
  • Follow rules and regulations on disposal of food waste at ferry ports and airports.
  • Provide the means for staff and visitors to thoroughly sanitise their hands and equipment.
  • Ensure that wild boar, warthogs and wild pigs, and materials potentially contaminated by such wild species do not come into contact with domestic pigs.
  • Check infected regions before import of goods that could potentially be contaminated.
  • Advise and educate people on the risks of bringing back pork products from infected regions.