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African Swine Fever

Varkenspest

African Swine Fever is spreading across Europe. Starting in Russia, African Swine Fever has been detected in the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania since 2017.

African Swine Fever is an infectious viral disease and is transmitted via contact between animals or indirectly via transport, humans, infected materials or feed.

    Brochure

    What is African Swine Fever?

    African Swine Fever is an infectious viral disease. It is a complex DNA virus that is highly infectious and often fatal for pigs. The illness originated in Africa, but has been making its way towards the European Union from Russia and Ukraine since 2007.

    The illness originated in Africa. In 1921, the virus was first described in Kenya. In 1986, a fattener and sow farm in South Holland was infected.

    Since 2017, the illness has been travelling through areas like the Caucasus, Russia, and Ukraine towards the European Union. In 2017, the ASF was discovered at a Czech farm. It was a significant discovery, considering that the nearest infected farm was 400 km away. It was also unsettling that the number of reports exceeded 100 over a short period of time. In early June 2018, a pig farm in Poland had to clear out 5,900 pigs and 600 sows. In early July, the virus was detected on a Romanian pig farm with 45,000 animals.

    The spread of African Swine Fever

    The virus can be transmitted directly and indirectly. Examples of direct transmission are contact between porcine animals as well as with soft ticks in (sub)tropical regions, and via infected materials or food.

    Indirect transmission can occur via vehicles, transport, veterinarians, ticks and animal movements, etc.

    Characteristics of African Swine Fever

    African Swine Fever can express itself in various ways: from virtually no symptoms to bruising and sudden death. Pigs that have been affected by African Swine Fever become acutely ill after an incubation period of 4 to 19 days. Other symptoms of the illness are fever (40 to 41°C), leukopenia (decreased white blood cell count), haemorrhaging of internal organs, bruising (especially on the ears and flanks) and sudden death.

    The most common symptoms are:

    • fever
    • loss of appetite
    • lethargy, lying down frequently
    • bruises, primarily on the ears, tail, stomach and the inside of the limbs
    • bloody diarrhoea
    • reddish skin
    • conjunctivitis
    • vomiting
    • coughing
    • respiratory problems
    • bluish skin
    • weakness of the back limps, wobbly gait, lameness and cramps
    • necrotic flesh (black discolouration)
    • miscarriage (in sows)
    • stillbirth or sudden death (without prior observation of illness symptoms)

    The symptoms may strongly resemble those of classic swine fever. The illnesses are difficult to differentiate from each other.

    The virus is extremely hardy and can survive for 3 months outside of the pig. The virus remains stable at a pH value between 4-13 and can survive for 18 months if the temperature stays around room temperature, up to 150 days in (Iberian) ham and even up to 3 years in the freezer.

    Prevention

    Farm workers/visitors

    • Implement clear protocols Where and with whom should people report their presence?
    • Ensure that visitors cannot simply enter your stalls
    • Require all visitors to sign the visitor registry
    • Require all stall visitors to shower
    • Require all stall visitors to wear workwear
    • Place an alcohol dispenser at the entrance, so that everyone can immediately disinfect their hands
    • Require all stall visitors to place materials in a UV disinfection cabinet before they can bring those materials into the stall

    Transport

    • Clearly establish a before (clean) pathway and after (soiled) pathway
    • Require drivers to wear shoe covers prior to entering the farm
    • Require all drivers to wear workwear
    • Provide disinfection at the gate

    The Netherlands Enterprise Agency has set the following standards for a simple washing area:

    • The transport vehicle or unit fits entirely into the washing area
    • The area is well lit
    • The floor is waterproof and well drained: water cannot seep into the floor or groundwater
    • The washing area is equipped with sufficient water, tools and materials for cleaning and disinfecting the transport vehicle (such as a high-pressure hose and disinfecting agents)
    • Drivers can wash their hands with warm water and soap
    • Work coveralls and work boots are available
    • There is an area where used boots can be cleaned

    Disinfection

    • Provide a foot disinfection bath or mat prior to entering the stall

    Carcass removal

    • Ensure that carcass refrigeration functions well and seals properly
    • Always where disposable gloves when removing carcasses
    • Always clean and disinfect carcass refrigeration units after the carcasses have been retrieved from the location

    Pests

    • Hire a recognised company to provide effective pest control
    • Clear stalls of birds
    • Remove dead rats and mice immediately and immediately wash and disinfect hands after contact
    • Remove excrement in such a way that the pigs are unable to come into contact with it

    Any questions?

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