- 29 Oct 2018
African swine fever affects pigs. It does not affect humans.
It poses a severe threat to animal welfare and affects productivity. Both domestic and feral pigs may be affected.
It is a notifiable disease.
In light of the spread of African swine fever in parts of Eastern and Central Europe during 2017, we worked on a joint government and industry campaign reminding all pig keepers that they must not feed kitchen scraps or catering waste to their pigs, including videos aimed at commercial pig keepers and pet pig owners.
The main clinical signs are:
- loss of appetite
- lack of energy
- sudden death with few signs beforehand
Other signs can include:
- diarrhoea (sometimes bloody)
- reddening or darkening of the skin, particularly ears and snout
- gummed-up eyes
- laboured breathing and coughing
- abortion, still births and weak litters
- weakness and unwillingness to stand
How African swine fever is spread
African swine fever can be spread by:
- direct contact with infected pigs
- contact with body secretions and animal waste from infected animals
- infected material carried on vehicles, equipment, pens, feed, hands, boots, clothing, among other livestock, birds and flies
pigs consuming contaminated pork or pork products: the virus can survive in cooked or frozen meat
Pigs can start shedding the virus before clinical signs of disease are visible, and may continue for weeks or months afterwards. This is why good biosecurity and responsible sourcing of livestock are so essential.
Human health implications
There are no human health implications because the disease is not zoonotic.
How to control the disease
The disease control strategy for African and classical swine fever in Great Britain sets out the measures we would take if African swine fever was confirmed in domestic pigs.
All pigs on the infected premises would be culled. Disease control zones would be declared with movement restrictions and controls on pigs, meat and anything likely to spread disease within the zones.
Biosecurity is about being aware of the ways disease can spread and taking every practical measure to minimise the risk of disease spreading. The advice details practical things you can do on your farm to help prevent the introduction and spread of African swine fever to and from your animals.
The Scottish Government, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) and Quality Meat Scotland have produced a set of leaflets providing practical advice for pig keepers to prevent disease on their premises.
If you suspect signs of any notifiable diseases, you must immediately notify your Scotland: field service local office at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Failure to do so is an offence.