March 2022

TEXT-ONLY VERSION (scroll to bottom to download Newsletter in PDF)

African Swine Fever

African Swine Fever (ASF) has been affecting multiple regions around the world resulting in massive losses in pig populations and drastic economic consequences. As there is no effective vaccine against ASF, this is a disease that not only impacts animal health and welfare but also has detrimental effects on biodiversity and the livelihoods of farmers.

ASF is a highly contagious viral disease that effects domestic and wild pigs and has a mortality rate that can reach 100%. The ASF virus is highly resistant in the environment and can survive of clothes, boots, wheels, and other materials. It can also survive in various infected pork products (cooked or uncooked) and remains viable for long periods in blood, faeces, and tissues. ASF cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans. Human behaviour does however play a vital role in the spreading of this disease across borders if proper measures are not taken.

ASF is highly resistant to low temperatures but will be inactivated by heat at 56ºC for 70 minutes or 60ºC for 20 minutes. This makes a closed composting system a very attractive option when it comes to carcass disposal in the event of an outbreak. EarthPet successfully assisted the Western Cape Veterinary Services in the ASF outbreak in 2021. Temperatures within our system typically run between 60-70ºC with the highest ever recorded temperature being 87 ºC. This makes our system extremely efficient in neutralising this contagious virus within a few hours of the animal remains being added to our bio-chambers. Another advantage of a closed system is that the animal remains do not encounter the surrounding environment or with wildlife and scavengers. This means that the spread of the disease can be mitigated and successfully controlled.

Biosecurity is vital when it comes to infectious animal diseases that have no cure and therefore preventative measures need to be put into place to prevent further spread. As this virus can be spread through blood, tissues, secretions, and excretions of sick and dead animals – proper and safe disposal of animal remains is vital to prevent the disastrous effects this disease can have on the economy and animal health & welfare.

EarthPet’s Infographic

African swine fever is a contagious, viral disease that affects domestic pigs and wild boar, leading to high mortality. It does not affect people. First detected in the early 1900s in Africa, the disease has spread to countries in Asia and Europe.

Occurrence: African Swine Fever is present in wild and domestic pigs in regions of Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Direct transmission:
• contact between sick and healthy animals.
Indirect transmission:
• feeding on garbage containing infected meat (ASF virus can remain infectious for 3– 6 months in uncooked pork products).
biological vectors – soft ticks of the genus Ornithodoros.
• fomites include, premises, vehicles, implements, clothes.
Within tick vector:
• transstadial, transovarial, and sexual transmission occur.

African Swine Fever Deactivation Temperatures:
• 70 minutes @ 56°C
• 20 minutes @ 60°C

Did you know?
• Frozen meat from infected pigs can harbour the virus for up to six months.
• The ASF virus has been estimated to survive for up to 15 days in faeces and five days in urine at 21°C.

Sources of the ASF virus:
• Blood, tissues, secretions, and excretions of sick and dead animals.
• Animals which have recovered from either acute or chronic infections may become persistently infected, acting as virus carriers; especially in African wild swine, and in domestic pigs and wild boar in endemic areas.
• Soft ticks of the genus Ornithodoros.

Public Health Risk? African Swine Fever does not affect people. Human behaviour does however play a vital role in the spreading of this disease across borders if proper measures are not taken.

Prevention at Animal Source:
• Do not feed domestic pigs food waste.
• Do not leave food waste exposed for wild swine species to access. Dispose of food waste properly.
• Abide by strict biosecurity rules. Do not take pig meat onto farms, or restrict all food (and consumption of food) to a canteen.
• All staff on farm should be inducted onto a strict programme of hand and equipment sanitisation before and after contact with pigs.
• Follow rules and regulations on disposal of food waste at ferry ports and airports.
• Provide the means for staff and visitors to thoroughly sanitise their hands and equipment.
• Ensure that wild boar, warthogs and wild pigs, and materials potentially contaminated by such wild species do not come into contact with domestic pigs.
• Check infected regions before import of goods that could potentially be contaminated.
• Advise and educate people on the risks of bringing back pork products from infected regions.