ASF threat still present, pig farmers warned

Pig farmers should remain vigilant against African swine fever, say industry chiefs launching a new manual on the disease.

The National Pig Association (NPA) document, African Swine Fever – What you need to know, is available for NPA members.

The 26-page guidelines detail what measures would be enforced on infected farms should a UK outbreak occur, and describe wider trading and industry implications.

This serves as an abridged version of the Defra, Scottish and Welsh governments’ national ASF/CSF (Classical Swine Fever) control strategy, which was revised in March 2020.

See also: How to prepare an African swine fever contingency plan

Chinese outbreaks

A recent spate of ASF outbreaks in central China has resulted in 28 animals dying of the disease and a further 520 being culled. 

Five units in the northern Sichuan province have been confirmed as infected by the World Animal Health Organisation in March and April.

China reported slight growth in its sow herd in the autumn of 2019 after slaughtering half of its pigs (over 200 million head) to control the disease.

European outbreaks

ASF continues to threaten European farms, particularly in eastern Europe.

Closer to home, laboratory tests on wild boar carcasses found in forests in Belgium and Luxembourg have tested positive for the disease this year.

Romania is battling ASF through farm and wild boar culling. Ten farm outbreaks were reported in April and one case in wild boar, resulting in a total of 45 cases in pigs and a further 38 pigs being culled.

Russia has reported farm outbreaks this year but is mainly seeing a disease in wild boar.

Hungarian, Latvian and Moldovan authorities are controlling the disease through wild boar culls in forests.

Important to prepare

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said that Covid-19 is understandably the current focus, but the threat from ASF remains.

“Even a small ASF incursion in the UK would have a massive impact on farms affected and the wider industry, with restrictions in place for a long time.

“We have worked hard with Defra on their revised ASF-CSF control plan to ensure it is effective and proportionate.

“It is important that members make themselves aware of what an outbreak would entail and that they start thinking now about how they would cope and what they can do to prepare.”