A graphic showing two farmers feeding three pigs from a trough on a farm.

Use Biosecurity to Prepare and Prevent African Swine Fever in the U.S.

Dr. Julie SmithAnimal Health, Livestock diseases

African swine fever (ASF) is an incurable viral disease of pigs but does not pose a threat to human health. There are many ways that ASF can spread from one part of the world to another, or from one premises to another. The following guidelines for keeping pigs healthy are especially important for reducing the chances of spreading ASF.

  1. A poster from the World Organization for Animal Health about preventing African swine fever in pigs.

    Do not feed food waste/garbage/swill of any kind to pigs. ASF can survive in pork products, so eliminating this source of transmission dramatically reduces the risk of infecting pigs with ASF (as well as other diseases of concern).

  2. If pigs are housed outdoors, do everything possible to prevent contact with feral swine, including double-fencing. Consider having a contingency plan for indoors-only housing.
  3. Quickly move dead pigs away from other pigs. The rate of spread of ASF can be reduced dramatically by preventing exposure to infected pigs’ blood and carcasses. To prevent indirect transmission, do not leave carcasses where wildlife or feral swine can contact them.
  4. Closely monitor health status and mortality rates, and follow recommended rules for calling a veterinarian. Early on, ASF can look a lot like normal mortality in a herd. Be vigilant in reporting unexplained sudden deaths and signs such as pigs off feed, listless or depressed, running a fever of >=105 F, or with bluish/purplish coloration of the tips of the ears or elsewhere on the body. The virus can also cause abortions. The virus mutates a lot and can cause disease syndromes on a spectrum from sudden death to chronic, recurrent illness and eventual death. 
  5. Follow biosecurity precautions. ASF can spread between pigs through both direct and indirect contact with other infected pigs or pig products, as well as contaminated farm equipment, feed and clothing. We can’t ask pigs to take a shower, but all employees can ensure they are not tracking virus from one place to another on their hair, hands, clothing, and footwear.
  6. Make sure workers, materials, and equipment are as clean as possible coming in and out to prevent disease spread. Following a biosecurity plan consistent with the Secure Pork Supply guidance will be a necessary part of any program to maintain trade in the face of infection elsewhere in the country.

Join the growing number of hog producers building a biosecurity plan to maintain continuity of business and access to export markets: begin with a Secure Pork Supply Plan.