Aujeszky’s Disease (AD) or Pseudorabies is a notifiable infectious disease of pigs. It is caused by a herpes virus and other species are also susceptible, for example, cattle, sheep, dogs and cats. It is not transmissible to humans.

Regional freedom

Following a presentation to SCoFCAH (Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health) on 11th September 2012 , Member States voted unanimously on 2nd October to recognise Northern Ireland (NI) as a region free of Aujeszky’s Disease (AD). This follows a detailed submission to the European Commission in March 2012. The decision was formalised on 13 Nov 2012 (Decision 2012/701/EU) when Ireland and Bolzano Province in Italy were also granted regional freedom at the same time. This will allow NI to trade on an equal basis with Great Britain and opens up new market opportunities further afield. All breeding and production pigs imported from regions which are not AD free will be required to meet additional health and certification requirements.

This is a very significant milestone for animal health in Northern Ireland and the culmination of a lot of work by Industry and various Divisions in DARD, most notably Veterinary Service Audit and Standards Branch and Central Policy Group.

New surveillance scheme for Aujeszky’s disease

From 1st March 2013 a new surveillance scheme was phased in to ensure Northern Ireland maintains its status as an Aujeszky’s Disease free zone.
To maintain regional freedom from disease an annual surveillance of the national pig herd must be undertaken, which will require low level sampling of breeding and finishing herds up to a maximum of 14 pigs per separate epidemiological unit. This new sampling regime will commence on 1 March 2013. Those herd keepers who have completed a Monitoring Test in the past will have been notified when their next test is due.

For breeding herds, sampling of breeding pigs should be carried out by your nominated Private Veterinary Practitioner (PVP) on farm as before. Herd keepers of breeding units do not need to arrange additional sampling for their finishing pigs.

For stand alone finishing holdings, sampling of pigs may be carried out on farm by a nominated PVP, or alternatively at slaughter with the samples taken either by an authorised member of slaughterhouse staff or a nominated PVP. Finishing herds will be allocated a Monitoring Test and notified of the date due for testing.

Samples must be tested at AFBI, Veterinary Sciences Division, Stoney Road, Belfast.  

For further information contact: 028 3025 3241, 028 7138 4734, or 028 7034 1133.

Current situation

The European Commission recognised Northern Ireland as free from Aujeszky’s Disease (Annex I status) at a vote on 2nd October 2012. This is the result of the dedication of a joint Industry / Government working group which has worked since 2004 to eradicate this disease from NI.

This decision was published in the European Commission’s Official Journal on 13 November 2012.

Annex I status allows for the export of pigs to GB and other Annex I listed regions without the previously required blood sampling regimes and provides further guarantees for pigs imported into NI.

Annex I status also opens up opportunities for trade in new markets.
Last reviewed 20 December 2012.

Clinical signs of Aujeszky's

Clinical signs and mortality depend on the age and immune status of the pigs affected and the strain on virus involved.

In summary the signs are:


  • coughing
  • fever
  • nervous signs
  • reproductive failure
  • abortions
  • mummified piglets
  • stillbirths
  • birth weak litters


  • nervous signs
  • incoordination
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • high mortality
  • low / poor viable piglets

Weaners & growers

  • fever
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • pneumonia
  • nervous signs including incoordination and fits
  • some strains of the virus can cause severe respiratory disease and others severe rhinitis
  • usually low mortality

All other species – cattle, sheep, dogs and cats

  • nervous signs
  • death

Pig herd registration

Anyone who keeps pigs in NI is required to register with DARD, including keepers of a pet pig(s). Applicants must register their holding with DARD and make an application for a holding code. 

A DARD officer will then be in contact to progress the registration which includes an inspection of the proposed premises. An application form can be obtained by contacting your local DARD office. Information on Pig Identification and Registration and Movement Recording can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

Pet pigs

Keepers of pet pigs are required to register with DARD and obtain a holding code. An AD status will be applied to newly registered holdings and appropriate movement licences issued. Movement licences should accompany all pigs moving from registered pet holdings and a copy returned to the local DARD office. Pet pigs which are being bred for sale will be subject to the same testing regime as commercial pig holdings. Pet pigs being moved will required to be identified as per the regulations.

Aujeszky’s Disease surveillance

The Aujeszky’s Disease Order (NI) 2012 and the Aujeszky’s Disease Scheme Order (NI) 2012 provide the legislative framework for Aujeszky’s Disease surveillance. 

Sampling requirements

The following table shows sampling requirements of a breeding holding.

Table 1 - sample size required*
Number of adult pigs on premises/holding Number of adult pigs to be sampled
10 or less 8
11 to 20 10
21 to 30 11
31 to 60 12
61 to 200 13
More than 200 14

* The minimum number of blood samples to be taken in a holding to allow the detection of 20%seroprevalence with 95% confidence. 

Where pigs are kept on different premises within a holding code samples may be required from each premises at the level indicated in Table 1 above. 

Aujeszky's disease contacts

Pig identification / registration / movement

Abigail Armstrong
Tel: 0300 200 7840

Jose Morey-Maestre
Tel: 0300 200 7840

Michael Murray
Tel: 0300 200 7840

CAFRE pig technologists

Mark Hawe
Tel: 0300 200 7840

Liz Donnelly
Tel: 0300 200 7840


Pig import and export queries
Tel: 0300 200 7840

More useful links

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