Naig: African Swine Fever Cases in China Highlight Importance of Biosecurity, Vigilance by Iowa Farmers

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig highlighted the importance of strict biosecurity by pork producers following the confirmation of several cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Pork Producers Association are encouraging pork producers to be on the lookout for clinical signs of the disease and to contact their veterinarian if they have herd health concerns.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a number of cases of African Swine Fever confirmed in China across a large geographic region. China has about 700 million pigs, or half the world’s swine population, so these discoveries are a serious concern,” Naig said. “While this virus poses no threat to human health or any food safety concern, it could have a devastating economic impact if it would be found in the U.S. Our pork producers do a great job with biosecurity and protecting pig health and the new cases highlight the importance of everyone remaining diligent in their biosecurity efforts.”

Signs of ASF can be variable but often include high fever, decreased appetite and weakness. The skin may be reddened, blotchy, or have blackened lesions. Infected pigs may also have diarrhea, vomiting, coughing and difficulty breathing. Currently, no vaccine or treatment exists.

The virus is easily spread between pigs by direct contact or indirectly from contact with contaminated objects. The virus can survive in the environment, on shoes and clothing, vehicles, and in feed components.

Uncooked or undercooked meat (including refrigerated and frozen products) can carry the virus, making the feeding of food waste to pigs a pathway to spread the disease. Ticks, flies, and other insects may also spread the virus.

Feed ingredients imported may also be a potential source of disease transport and producers should evaluate feed ingredient sources for potential risk.

In addition to China, the disease had previously been detected in Russia, Eastern Europe and Africa.

ASF is a reportable foreign animal disease (FAD). Suspicious cases should be reported to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship or USDA Veterinary Services, especially when higher than normal mortality is evident.

Biosecurity Important for Farmers

Farmers can take steps to protect their animals and prepare for a possible FAD event. Maintaining a high level of on-farm biosecurity is the best protection. Tips include:

·         Ensure biosecurity plans are up-to-date and being implemented. This includes using a disinfectant specifically labeled for ASF

·         Proactively follow industry best management practices if hosting international visitors or traveling abroad. More information is available at https://www.pork.org/production/animal-disease/foreign-animal-disease-resources/.

·         Obtain or update premises identification number (premises ID) for each location where swine are located. Forms to complete or update premises registration information is available at http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/animalIndustry/pdf/premiseIDapp2.pdf. If farmers have questions they can contact the Department’s Animal ID Coordinator toll free at 888-778-7675 or by email at idals_id@iowaAgriculture.gov.

·         Work with a veterinarian to use electronic certificates of veterinary inspection or Swine Production Health Plan herd agreements for all animal movements