- 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 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.
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
- discharges from the eyes and nose
- 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.
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 confirmed 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.
Wild boar are considered to be a non-native species in Scotland. This means it is an offence under Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to release any type of pig, including wild boar. It is also an offence to allow them to escape from captivity. Unchecked, escapes from collections, wild boar farms or intentional illegal releases could result in widespread establishment of feral pig populations throughout Scotland.
Currently the primary responsibility for controlling feral pig populations lies with individual land owners, and where feral pigs are present, land managers are encouraged to control feral pig numbers to manage their impacts on agriculture and the environment.
The keeping of dangerous wild animals is regulated by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. It aims to protect the public and to ensure that the animals are properly cared for. Wild boar and their hybrids are considered dangerous wild animals and a licence is required to keep them. Anyone wishing to keep such animals must obtain a licence from their local authority prior to taking ownership of their animal. Read the guidance on keeping wild boar.
Boar are large, strong animals and adept at breaching many standard fencing designs. Weld mesh or high tensile wild boar netting is the most suitable material to use, and fences should be at least 1.8 m high and should be buried 0.5 m below ground. It is recommended that fencing is supplemented by a minimum of one strand of outrigger electrified wire (a suspended strand of electric wire inside the un-electrified fencing), approximately 0.5 m above ground level. Read further guidance on fencing.
Fences should be checked regularly to ensure they are kept secure and in good repair. The use of barbed wire is not appropriate, except as a single strand at ground level where wild boar digging under fences are a problem.
You can report wild boar / feral pig sightings in Scotland:
- online – https://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/
- by email – SEARS email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- by phone – SEARS 24/7 customer service phone line: 08452 30 20 50
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.