By David Fairfield, Senior Vice President of Feed Services
A fifth case of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China was reported on Aug. 30, with other recent outbreaks also reported in Romania and Ukraine.
Although these incidents do not represent the first time African swine fever has been detected outside of Africa – outbreaks in Europe and the Americas date back to the 1960s – its recent detection and diverse geographical spread of the outbreaks have raised concerns that the disease may move across borders and potentially affect other countries, including the United States.
Published scientific studies have indicated that feed and feed ingredients may become contaminated and serve as a vector for transmission of viruses. Research currently is underway to identify mitigation steps to minimize ASF virus in feed, but results are forthcoming and currently there are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved additives for the control of ASF. In addition, there currently is no validated method to detect ASF in feed or feed ingredients. To minimize the potential for introduction and spread of viruses, including ASF, within the feed supply-chain, feed facilities should implement effective biosecurity practices that are appropriate for their operations.
The following are key points about ASF developed by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians:
- ASF is a highly contagious virus spread by direct and indirect contact with contaminated objects. Some biting insects and tick species can carry and transmit the virus, and the disease also readily can be spread by pigs eating uncooked garbage (swill) that contains tissues from infected animals.
- ASF can survive for long periods (months to more than a year) in the environment and in pork products (cured, refrigerated and frozen).
- Clinical signs can resemble common endemic diseases: high fever, decreased appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, abortions. All age groups of pigs are susceptible. High mortality is a common feature. Death may be sudden or appear seven to 10 days after other signs of disease.
- Whole blood (not serum or oral fluids) is the only validated test available to detect the disease at an official U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved lab.
- There is no treatment or vaccine currently available for ASF.
- The virus poses NO risk to human health.
In recent days, the NGFA has been involved in meetings with the National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council and Swine Health Information Center to discuss how to promote awareness about the potential for ASF among U.S. pork producers and the feed industry. Importantly, based on these discussions, it is likely that the Swine Health Information Center soon will be distributing a document that lists questions for pork producers to ask of their feed and feed ingredient suppliers. The document is designed to initiate a dialogue about the safety of feed and feed ingredients and likely will pose questions related to the origin of feed ingredients, use of biosecurity practices, and general feed safety practices utilized by commercial feed and feed ingredient establishments.
The NGFA will provide additional information pertaining to ASF and feed-related issues as it becomes available. Members with questions may contact NGFA Senior Vice President of Feed Services David Fairfield by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.