After reviewing eight potential pathways, a new study has found no major areas have been overlooked to prevent the introduction of African swine fever to the U.S.
African Swine Fever
African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious viral pig disease. It can spread very quickly in pig populations through direct or indirect contact. There is no vaccine or treatment available.
There is no evidence that ASF can infect humans.
The U.S. is an ASF-free region, but if an outbreak is suspected, then a veterinarian should be contacted immediately.
U.S. pork producers must take the necessary steps to protect their farms and the domestic pork industry from the threat of ASF. If a foreign animal disease such as ASF enters the U.S., it would likely eliminate our entire export market to zero for an unknown amount of time.
ASF Signs and Symptoms in Pigs
Anyone who works with pigs should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of ASF:
- High fever
- Decreased appetite and weakness
- Red, blotchy skin or skin lesions
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Coughing and difficulty breathing
Immediately report animals with any of these signs to your herd veterinarian or to your state or federal animal health officials. Or, you may call USDA’s toll-free number at 866-536-7593 for appropriate testing and investigation. Timeliness is essential to preventing the spread of ASF.
Steps to Prepare for an ASF Outbreak
This general checklist will help pork producers prepare for a potential ASF or other foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak in the U.S.
Specific plans and requirements will vary by state.
Preparation ChecklistExpand All
To receive indemnity payments from USDA APHIS, producers must be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) database. This no-cost process may take time, so take action now.
→ Register your farm business at sam.gov. You must do this annually.
- Traceability and Surveillance
Animal health officials need the physical locations of production sites in disease control areas to quickly communicate important disease control information.
These Premises Identification Numbers (PINs) are used to link site data and information (production and movement records, diagnostics, permits, etc.) so it can be easily analyzed by animal health officials for rapid decision-making.
Basic movement record forms can be found in the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus) education handbook. However, having these records in an electronic format is preferred (e.g., AgView).
→ Get a separate PIN for each production site
→ Ensure all PINs are geolocated to the site where the pigs are housed
→ Include PINs on all animal movements, semen shipments and diagnostic submissions
→ Record all human, vehicle and equipment movement on and off each site
→ Create an AgView account and upload pig movement data.
- Onsite Preparedness
Resources are available at securepork.org to assist with onsite preparedness.
→ Create a site-specific biosecurity plan, which can be shared upon request
→ Implement enhanced biosecurity measures included in the plan
→ Train all production employees on clinical signs of FADs, including ASF
→ Observe pigs daily for FAD clinical signs, document and report concerns
→ Perform diagnostic testing as directed by your herd veterinarian
→ Develop welfare and disposal (normal mortality) plans in case of a stop movement order
- Emergency Depopulation and Disposal Plans
Work with your herd veterinarian and appropriate state agencies to develop depopulation and disposal plans.
→ Work with your state’s environmental agency to develop an authorized disposal plan, as it may dictate the depopulation options for your farm
→ Determine required resources necessary for the identified depopulation and disposal methods
→ Locate potential sources for equipment/supplies
ASF Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is ASF not a human health concern?
- ASF is a viral disease affecting only pigs, not people; so it is not a public health threat nor a food safety concern.
- According to Dan Rock, Professor of Pathobiology, University of Illinois, most viruses demonstrate some degree of host restriction; they replicate in one cell type or host and not in another. While there are exceptions, this is the general rule not the exception. In the case of ASF virus, there is no evidence supporting either subclinical or clinical infection of humans.
- The host restriction in ASF virus is likely due to the absence of susceptible and permissive cells needed for viral replication. It could also be related to the inability of the virus to overcome intrinsic and innate host responses generated following ASF virus exposure.
- Can countries with ASF export pork?
- The World Organization for Animal health (OIE), of which the United States is a member, considers African swine fever to be a trade-limiting foreign animal disease of pigs.
- Countries with confirmed cases are subject to international trade restrictions aimed at reducing the risk of introduction of the disease through trade.
- The United States has never had a case of African swine fever and there are strict animal health and import requirements enforced by USDA APHIS Veterinary Services, USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine and DHS Customs and Border Protection to prevent entry into the United States. There is a national response strategy for African swine fever that has been developed by USDA Veterinary Services.
ASF Preparation Resources
Use these resources to take steps in preventing and preparing for foreign animal disease.