African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. In its acute form the disease generally results in high mortality. ASF is a different disease to swine flu. The virus does not affect people and there is no impact on human health.

Clinical signs

The clinical signs of ASF may occur in chronic, sub-acute or acute form. The incubation period for ASF is variable but is usually between five and fifteen days.

In the acute form pigs develop a high temperature (40.5 degrees C or 105 degrees F), then become dull and go off their food. Other symptoms can vary but will include some or all of the following:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea (sometimes bloody)
  • reddening or darkening of the skin, particularly ears and snout
  • gummed up eyes
  • laboured breathing and coughing
  • abortion, still births and weak litters
  • weakness and unwillingness to stand

The clinical signs of ASF are indistinguishable to those for Classical Swine Fever and also similar to other pig diseases such as Porcine Dermatitis and Neopathy Syndrome.

Where is this disease found?

Traditionally this serious disease has occured mainly in Africa with the only endemic area in the European Union (EU) being the Italian island of Sardinia. However in 2017 the disease has also been reported in Central and Eastern Europe (Romania and the Czech Republic).

What is the public health risk associated with this disease?

African Swine Fever is not a human health threat.

How is the disease transmitted?

African Swine Fever can be spread through:

  • direct contact with infected pigs, faeces or body fluids
  • indirect contact via fomites such as equipment, vehicles or people who work with pigs between pig farms with ineffective biosecurity
  • pigs eating infected pig meat or meat products
  • biological vectors - ticks of the speciesOrnithodoros. However, ASF-competent ticks are not present in the UK

Prevention

Good biosecurity is essential to the prevention of introduction of ASF into Northern Ireland.

Biosecurity measures that farmers can take

  • maintain strict biosecurity
    • only allow essential visitors to enter your farm, and insist that they wear clean or disposible clothing and footwear, and wash their hands (or shower in if possible)
    • only allow vehicles and equipment on to the farm if they have been cleaned and disinfected beforehand
  • do not allow people who may have been in contact with other pigs on to your farm
  • do not allow staff and visitors to bring pork products on to the farm
  • do not allow catering waste / scraps to be fed to pigs - dispose of it safely
  • only source pigs and semen of known health status

The feeding of any food waste of animal origin or food waste which has been in contact with products of animal origin, whether raw or cooked, is illegal in the UK.

If you keep pigs, you have an important role in preventing further disease outbreaks, it is essential that pig holders maintain effective biosecurity all year round.

The above biosecurity measures are covered in our one page leaflet – print this and keep it handy, or put a copy on your noticeboard:’

Anyone suspecting African Swine Fever must immediately inform their DAERA Direct Regional Office.

If African Swine Fever is confirmed it will be controlled in line with the African Swine Fever Control Strategy.

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