African Swine Fever Update: Biosecurity is the Key

China continues to see losses and there is still no vaccine available. Practicing biosecurity on your farm is the current best recommendation to keep your pigs healthy.
African Swine Fever Update: Biosecurity is the Key - Articles


Knowing your feed source is imperative. Corn field at harvest, Iowa. Photo: E.Hines

African swine fever (ASF) continues to swirl in China, with new cases in Belgium increasing concern over biosecurity and the safety of imported meat to the U.S.. To date, 98% of all swine found susceptible to ASF in China have been destroyed, bringing the total to just shy of 60,000 swine destroyed as a result of 15 cases of ASF. While this number has increased substantially from September 2018, Chinese officials are beginning to lift some restrictions from initial outbreak placed on producers due to ASF.

The initial outbreak of ASF in China resulted in localized, intensive, restrictions of animal and people movement in China. These restrictions, however, are difficult to describe, as reporting from China on the exact restrictions in place is not readily available. To gain an understanding of how to deal with ASF, and the work it would take to eradicate, some industry leaders are looking toward Spain for guidance. From 1957 to the 1990s, ASF wreaked havoc in Portugal and Spain, and today Spain’s swine industry is considered to have some of the strongest and most advanced biosecurity measures -- largely attributed to an increase in integration and modernization of facilities -- emphasizing the importance of biosecurity. This is particularly important as there is still no vaccine available for ASF.

Numerous swine industry partners have been working to aggregate resources for producers. Many of these resources can be found through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Pork Board and Iowa State University. Among all these resources, a unified message continues to be put forth: prepare for foreign animal disease (FAD) through biosecurity. Having a plan to stop the spread of the disease is our greatest defense to keep our pork free of truly devastating swine illnesses. Practical biosecurity can be applied on any farm. Whether you raise your swine on concrete slabs or on pasture, practicing biosecurity in your herd will go a long way to keeping your pigs safe and reducing the spread of illnesses. This applies not only to ASF, but also to Classical Swine Fever (CSF or Hog Cholera), recently found in Japan and Brazil, or other FAD.

These practices include registering for a premises ID, registering with Secure Pork ahead of restricted livestock movements that come with an FAD outbreak, creating a practical biosecurity protocol (and following that protocol every day!). The current status of ASF monitoring and preventative actions suggested for U.S. pork producers can be found in a fact sheet published by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, National Pork Producers Council, National Pork Board, and Swine Health Information Center. APHIS (USDA) has also posted the complete FAD response plan for ASF. Part of this focus has been to increase funding available for vaccine creation and increase the number of labs that are capable of testing for ASF. These efforts are being put in place to support good biosecurity practices and border security being implemented now.

In addition to practicing biosecurity through movements and tracking, spread of ASF may possibly be linked to feed ingredients. The outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) in the U.S. in 2014 has increased concern of feed ingredients as a possible mode of transfer for diseases. Research on the transfer of ASF through feed ingredients is currently being conducted at Kansas State University. From this research, the a palm card has been created for quick reference of FAD monitoring, particularly in feedstuffs, that focuses on working with your feed supplier to understand ingredient sourcing and holding times on specific ingredients.

The summary of these resources is to:

  1. Report suspected illness: (PDA: 717-772-2852)
  2. Be critical of feed ingredient sources: use and consult the palm card
  3. Don’t feed pork products to swine at all. Pork products are currently thought to be the greatest risk for transferring the disease over long distances.
  4. Keep wild swine populations away from domestic swine herds: In Europe, the spread of ASF is thought to be facilitated through the wild boar population.

As with most new threats, understanding the perspective of FAD threats and previous experiences of producers and experts can go a long way in understanding your best approach. Take a few moments to watch these videos to understand the risks of ASF, and the benefits received from preventative measures. The below videos are from presentations given at the 2018 Allen D. Leman Swine Conference, Minneapolis MN.

North American swine producers stand to benefit by keeping the regional herds free of FAD. This takes cooperation from all swine producers, large and small. If you have not already, utilize the resources available in this article to evaluate biosecurity of your herd and to do your part to keep FAD out of the U.S. and North America.