Keeping ASF out of North America

Keeping ASF out of North America
Dec 11, 2018

Pork producers can help to prevent virus from contaminating unaffected hogs 

Staff Writer
Pork producers play a vital role in preventing African swine fever (ASF) from entering North American herds.
In a telephone town hall update on Friday, Dr. Christa Arsenault, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ co-lead for the Ontario Animal Health Network, discussed how the industry can help prevent ASF from entering North America. 
“In the year 2018, African Swine Fever has been detected in both eastern and western Europe, including but not limited to Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic and also in Russia and in China,” she said in a Monday Farmscape article. “In some of these countries, ASF has been detected in wild pigs only, and (in) others, ASF has been detected in both wild pigs and domestic swine operations, varying in size.”
ASF only affects swine, both domestic and wild, Arsenault explained. The virus poses no threat to food safety or public health, she added. 
“There have been no cases of ASF detected in North America to date,” Dr. Arsenault told Tuesday. “OMAFRA, along with other government agencies and swine industry organizations in Ontario, Canada and North America are monitoring international reports on confirmed cases of ASF.”   
Clinical symptoms affiliated with ASF include fever in pigs, pregnant sows aborting, vomiting, diarrhea, red blotches on the skin caused by internal bleeding, and lack of appetite. These symptoms can “mimic a number of swine diseases that are commonly detected on swine farms within Ontario,” Arsenault said in the article.  
The ASF virus has yet to be detected in Canada.
Producers should know where feed originates from to help prevent the virus from entering the country. Animal feed ingredients, specifically vitamins and amino acids, are commonly imported from China, where the virus “has infected pigs in some … provinces with the highest densities of swine production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” an October Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association article said.
Producers should have an on-farm emergency plan and contact their herd veterinarians immediately if ASF symptoms present themselves in a herd. Farmers should never re-locate ill pigs, nor should they sell or send them to livestock auctions, Arsenault said.
Producers are encouraged to consider the following prevention tips, Dr. Arsenault told 
  • “When visiting other countries infected with ASF, do not bring back any meat products into Canada. Wash all clothing and footwear upon your return to Canada.”
  • “Routinely evaluate biosecurity protocols with farm staff, suppliers and visitors. Ensure any farm staff, suppliers and visitors have not been in contact with swine in other countries that have detected ASF before allowing them entry into your herd. Ensure that all visitors, suppliers and staff understand how to correctly abide by on-farm biosecurity measures.”
  • “Avoid feeding swine kitchen food waste or allowing pork or pork products in your barn.”
  • “Contact your herd veterinarian immediately if you see clinical signs in pigs on your farm that could be associated with ASF infection.”
  • “Never move, sell or send to livestock auctions or yards sick or compromised pigs from your farm. This will prevent further spread of infection.”
  • “Be prepared on your farm: Create an on-farm emergency plan to handle and respond to disease threats.”
Swine Health Ontario, the Ontario Pork Industry Council, and Ontario Pork organized the telephone town hall update.
Updated Dec. 12, 2018. 
National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff photo, Des Moines, IA, USA photo 
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