Publication - Advice and guidance

African swine fever: how to spot and report the disease

Published: 29 Oct 2018

Advice on what to do if you suspect there is an outbreak of this infectious disease.

Published:
29 Oct 2018
African swine fever: how to spot and report the disease

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.

Latest situation: There has never been a known case of African swine fever in the UK. 

In light of the spread of African swine fever in parts of Asia and its presence in parts of Eastern and Central Europe, we have worked together 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.

Clinical signs

The main clinical signs are:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • lack of energy
  • sudden death with few signs beforehand

Other signs can include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea (sometimes bloody)
  • reddening or darkening of the skin, particularly ears and snout
  • discharges from the eyes and nose
  • laboured breathing and coughing
  • abortion, still births and weak litters
  • weakness and unwillingness to stand
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. 

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.

Trade and personal imports

It’s illegal to trade in pork or wild boar meat from African swine fever affected areas.

If you have visited affected areas in Europe, you must not bring any pork or pork products back to the UK.

If you have any food left over during your travel, use a secure bin to dispose of the food waste before entering the UK.

You can bring meat or meat products back from African swine fever affected EU countries as personal imports, but you must dispose of it so that pigs and wild boar cannot eat it.

It is illegal to bring personal meat or dairy products into the UK from Asia or Africa. You may face prosecution and a large fine if you import personal meat or dairy products from Asia or Africa when entering the UK. A poster is attached at the bottom of this page.

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. 

If the disease is confrimed the outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases.

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.

Legislation

The Diseases of Swine Regulations 2014

EU Council Directive 2002/60/EC

Biosecurity

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. 

ASF advice for hauliers

2 page PDF
347.3 kB

ASF advice for hunters

1 page PDF
149.7 kB

ASF poster

1 page PDF
803.7 kB

Contact

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.