Current Animal Health Crisis: African Swine Fever

Here’s some of the latest developments about the African swine fever, a disease that causes both curiosity and concern.

Animal health is extremely important these days, because it’s closely related to livestock production, public health, and international trade. This is why the public authorities’ work is to ensure the livestock industry keeps their animals in good health and conditions. Today, one of the animal diseases that is conditioning international animal trade is the African swine fever.

African swine fever: the facts

A pair of piglets in a cage.

The African swine fever virus, known by its acronym ASFV, is a viral disease discovered in Kenya in the early 20th century. The causative virus belongs to the Asfarviridae family.

Spread

Transmission can occur by direct contact with infected pigs or by eating leftover infected pig meat. In addition, the virus may survive 11 days in pig feces, and months or years in pork products.

Ticks of the species “Ornithodoros” also act as a vector for transmitting this disease. They ingest the virus by sucking infected blood and transmit it when feeding on susceptible animals.

Symptoms

Pigs infected with this virus first suffer from general discomfort along with high fever. After some days they will gradually suffer a loss of appetite and anorexia, followed by depression. Secondly, pathognomonic signs derived from vascular lesions, such as redness of the skin and cyanosis, appear.

Some animals also suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, and even miscarriages. In addition, it usually ends with the animal’s death within a few days. Some experts consider the mortality rate of domestic pigs to be 100%.

A group of pigs infected with swine fever.

Control and prophylaxis

To prevent the disease from entering a farm, the following are essential:

  • Access control to livestock facilities.
  • Extreme facility and vehicle cleansing, including disinfection of boots, truck cages, etc, as well as controlled personnel hygiene.
  • Control of entry of other animals from outside the farm.