African Swine Fever (ASF) Impacting China’s Pork Production
Increase Awareness to Avert Losses in the US & Texas
China has reported 20 African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks since the first case was discovered in Liaoning province on Aug 1. 2018. This Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) is spreading widely throughout farms located in the eastern third of China.
Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), USDA Veterinary Services, and the pork industry are keeping a watchful eye on the ASF outbreak in China. While there may not be a direct disease threat to Texas’s livestock farmers, it is appropriate that everyone takes the necessary precautions to protect the United States swine population by practicing good biosecurity.
Historically the US has seen diseases emanating from China, including the 2013 Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) which is thought to have been introduced through contaminated feed products and resulted in the loss of approximately seven million pigs.
Is there a threat of ASF being introduced into Texas?
While USDA-APHIS animal health regulations prohibit the importation of live pigs and untreated products originating from countries or regions that are affected with ASF, this easily transmissible disease could conceivably travel to the US via contaminated clothing, equipment or feed from unscrupulous providers. Strict biosecurity measures are essential to prevent introduction and spread of the virus.
What is the source of the ASF virus and how is ASF transmitted?
The ASF virus is found in the blood, tissue, secretions and excretions of sick animals and carcasses. ASF may also be found in infected Ornithodoros erraticus ticks or in the environment.
The virus can be transmitted through direct contact with infected animals, infected ticks, indirectly through feed containing infected pork products, or through contact with contaminated objects such as clothing, transport vehicles, fencing and waste.
The ASF virus is not communicable to humans and does not affect food safety.
What are the clinical signs of ASF?
The incubation period is 3-15 days after direct contact with infected pigs but can be less than five days after exposure to an infected tick. Signs of ASF can vary but often include high fever, decreased appetite, blotchy skin and internal organs, and death in 2-10 days on average. Sudden death is possible in newly exposed herds. Mortality rates can be as high as 100 percent.
What are treatment options for the ASF virus?
There are currently no available vaccinations for healthy animals or treatment options for infected swine. This makes heightened biosecurity measures essential as a means of prevention of infection and spread.
What if I suspect ASF infection?
ASF is a U.S. Foreign Animal Disease and an OIE-notifiable disease. Suspect cases should be reported to a State Animal Health Official (TAHC) or the USDA’s assistant district director who will decide if the report is credible and assign a foreign animal disease diagnostician to further investigate the possibility of ASF infection.
How to prevent ASF virus from entering the U.S. and Texas:
Increased on-farm biosecurity is the best form of protection. In addition to using disinfectant specifically labeled for ASF, producers should know:
- Regularly clean and disinfect facilities and equipment.
- Require cleaning and disinfection of livestock and feed trucks before they enter your premises
- Only purchase animals from reputable dealers and from countries that are approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Require a health certificate for all animals entering your premises and quarantine new animals for two weeks for observation
- Limit access of nonessential people and traffic
- Require essential personnel and authorized visitors, such as veterinarians, to wear disposable footwear. provide disinfectant for boots, clothing and other personal protective equipment
- Require all who leave the farm to change their clothes before they go to another farm and change again upon return, especially if they have had contact with animals at either location
- Buy feed produced in the United States
- Control insects, especially ticks, mosquitos and biting flies
- Deter wild animals, especially feral hogs, from entering your premises.
- Do not feed garbage or waste to your animals
- Monitor local, regional and global news as well as reports from government and industry groups to stay abreast of developments and act accordingly
More information is available online:
Source: Texas Animal Health Commission