The latest industry African Swine Fever (ASF) updates remind pig farmers and keepers to review and strengthen biosecurity.
Pig keepers are being urged to remain vigilant following the latest updates on African Swine Fever provided by DEFRA/APHA based on data from the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).
While the UK continues to remain clear of African Swine Fever (ASF), its spread across Europe serves as both a concern and a timely reminder to UK producers of the importance of keeping the disease out.
How Is ASF Spreading in Europe?
In Europe, most of the spread has been in wild boar populations however there are also instances where domestic pigs are affected. Most recently, ASF was confirmed on a small pig farm in Calabria, in Southern Italy, following cases detected in the local wild boar population, with a further outbreak just to the north in Campania. With no evidence of an epidemiological link between these cases and the previous cases and clusters in other parts of Italy (which had been limited to Central and Northern Italy), this represents a big “jump” in disease distribution. It is suspected that ASF has been introduced via human mediated pathways with a major road route passing the through the affected area, highlighting the importance of biosecurity both internally and externally.
Countries in Europe with reported ASF outbreaks:
What Is the Risk to Your Livestock?
In terms of risk levels, DEFRA/APHA considers the risk of entry from the transmission of ASF virus in live animals or commercial Products of Animal Origin (POAO) from affected countries or areas to remain at MEDIUM. However, the risk of ASF entering Great Britain from human mediated routes and non-commercial imports remain at HIGH. Evidence from British ports suggest there are still vehicles illegally bringing pork meat into the country from parts of Europe affected by ASF which have low levels of biosecurity and food hygiene. Britain did introduce stricter controls from 1st September 2022, meaning that it is illegal to personally bring in pork or pork products over 2 kilograms unless they meet EU commercial standards. While this does not apply to non-commercial imports under 2kg, travellers are now being strongly advised against taking pork products back to the UK from ASF affected areas. The importing of meat or dairy products from Asia and non-EU countries remains illegal.
Swill Feeding Remains Illegal
Pig keepers were also reminded that the practice of swill feeding remains illegal with the potential to cause significant harm. This does not just apply to pigs but also poultry, ruminants and wildlife. This includes the feeding of catering waste, kitchen scraps and pork products and spreading this message to the general public was also key. Links to resources from AHDB, including signs to advise the public can be found here.
Review And Strengthen Your Biosecurity
Keeping ASF out of the UK is vital for the UK pig sector and all keepers large and small are required to do what they can to prevent its spreading to the UK. Biosecurity should be reviewed and where possible enhanced with all members of the team fully versed in effective biosecurity measures. This includes ensuring that visitors or staff have not had contact with the following from affected regions or parts of the world:
Remember, the latest “leap” across Italy could have been due to susceptible animals being exposed to contaminated equipment or infected meat products via humans mediated transport.
Further DEFRA updates and information of ASF can be found here:
African swine fever: how to spot and report the disease - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Advice on ASF to pig producers from the Scottish Pig Disease Control Centre (SPDCC) can be found here.
Other sources of information:
Date – June 2023
Author – George Chalmers, SAC Consulting
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