I read an article recently on African Swine Fever and the risk level to pigs in the UK. The article stated that the risk of the disease entering the UK by contaminated pig products has been raised to medium. Romania, Lithuania, Poland and Bulgaria are all countries with confirmed cases of ASF with China also detecting its first case in early August this year.
Several thousand tonnes of Romanian-origin meat per year are sent to the UK from EU member states however in APHA’s latest risk assessment, the risk of exposure to the pig population here in the UK is still said to be low. APHA is assessing the risk to the UK every two weeks and reminding farmers to take precautions such as not feeding swill to their pigs and to ensure visitors to their farms haven’t had any recent contact with affected regions.
As always when articles like this come up, I want to know more about the disease and so I wanted to include more information about the cause and symptoms.
What causes ASF?
African Swine Fever Virus.
It is highly contagious. ASFV can spread very quickly in pig populations by direct or indirect contact. It can be transmitted without or without tick vectors.
After direct contact (without a tick), ASFV mainly enters the body via the upper respiratory tract. In indirect contact, ASFV is spread through soft tick bites.
It is also thought to be spread through fomites such as vehicles, equipment and feed.
What are the symptoms of ASF?
- High fever
- Decreased appetite
- Skin that is reddened, blotchy or has blackened lesions
- Difficulty breathing
Death usually occurs 7-10 days after symptoms are seen. There is no vaccine or treatment for ASF.