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IN THE KNOW: What is African swine fever?

07:21 AM September 10, 2019

African swine fever (ASF) is a severe viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs. This highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease is usually deadly and there are neither vaccines nor cures for it yet.

It is not a risk to human health but has the capacity to destroy livestock production and lead to economic losses.

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The typical signs of African swine fever are similar to those of classical swine fever, and the two diseases normally have to be distinguished by laboratory diagnosis.

Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, lack of energy, abortions, internal bleeding, with hemorrhages visible on the ears and flanks.

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Sudden death may occur. Severe strains of the virus are generally fatal (death occurs within 10 days).

Animals infected with mild strains of ASF virus may not show typical clinical signs, allowing them to act as reservoirs.

Routes of transmission of the disease can include: contact with infected animals, including contact between domestic pigs and wild boar; ingestion of meat or meat products from infected animals — food waste, feed, garbage; contact with anything contaminated by the virus such as clothing, vehicles, utensils and other equipment; and bites by infectious ticks.

According to the Bureau of Animal Industry, the ASF virus can survive in pig skin — even when dried — for up to 300 days.

During outbreaks and in affected countries, control of ASF can be difficult and must be adapted to the specific epidemiological situation.

Classic sanitary measures may be employed, including early detection and humane killing of animals (with proper disposal of carcasses and waste); thorough cleansing and disinfection; zoning/compartmentalization and movement controls; surveillance and detailed epidemiological investigation; and strict biosecurity measures on farms.

Following the first case of ASF in Southeast Asia found in Vietnam early this year, a ban on importation has been imposed on pork from Vietnam, Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, China and Mongolia.

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Quarantine stations at Ninoy Aquino International Airport have also been directed to install foot baths at all entry points nationwide.

Sources: World Organization for Animal Health, European Food Safety Authority, Inquirer Archives

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TAGS: African swine fever, ASF, In the Know
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