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.

Small-scale pig keepers invited to take ASF survey

A survey aimed at small-scale pig keepers, including smallholders, pet pig keepers and hobby keepers, has been launched by government departments across the UK.

The survey opened on Monday 20 July and forms part of the UK’s campaign to combat the introduction and spread of African Swine Fever.  It aims to find out more about what small-scale pig keepers already know about the disease, as well as asking about their feeding and biosecurity practices and what sources they refer to for pig keeping information. More information can be found on the Defra website at the following link Small scale pig keepers ASF survey

The results of the survey will be used to improve information available to pig keepers to help protect the health of their pigs and the UK pig industry.

If you are a small-scale pig keeper or keep pigs as pets, please complete the survey to help governments across the UK understand more about your knowledge of the disease and your pig keeping practices. This will help us provide the information you need to protect the health of your pigs and the pig industry as a whole.

The survey can be found here and closes on 31 August 2020.

Current Situation (20 June 2019)

In September 2018 the Belgian Authorities reported the emergence of ASF in two wild boars in the Luxembourg region, close to the border with France. This was the last significant new occurrence within Europe and by April 2019 the number of cases in the region had increased to 719. There have been no cases of ASF reported in domestic pigs, commercial or otherwise.

The disease is also present in several countries in Eastern Europe and also in Asia where it has been found in China, Hong Kong, Mongolia , Vietnam and North Korea.  In affected areas the disease has been confirmed in wild boar, as well as on farms, smallholdings and in pet pigs.

The overall risk to the UK, given the current distribution of ASF in Belgium, Eastern Europe and neighbouring countries, is still medium. The risk of exposure to the pig population in the UK is still dependent on the level of biosecurity on pig premises and is still considered to be LOW, although the situation is being kept under review.

Watch the video below for further information:

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


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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