African swine fever (ASF) is one of the most severe viral diseases of pigs. It is recognized by the global veterinary society as one of the major threats to pig production, food security, and biodiversity in the world.
ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, which is responsible for serious economic and production losses. The virus causes high mortality rates in domestic pigs and can cause the death of animals as quickly as a week after infection.
An outbreak of African swine fever in Nigeria’s largest pig farm co-operative in the south-west of the country has been confirmed. More than 300,000 pigs have been killed.
African swine fever is a double-stranded DNA virus. This virus is stable over a wide range of temperatures like cooking, smoking, air drying, salting, and freezing.
ASF is a disease listed in the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and must be reported to the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code.
The effects of this virus are harmful to pigs in individual farms, which is why we need to understand its mode of transmission to avoid infection and spread.
MODE OF TRANSMISSION
Infection is spread from pig to pig usually by sniffing infected discharges and faeces. It can also be transmitted through the consumption of infected meat which has been inadequately cooked, by the bites of soft ticks, lice, and flies. Infection can also be spread on contaminated implements and during transport.
The virus can survive in carrier pigs (pigs that have been infected with the virus), it can also survive in infected buildings, and for up to 4 years in infected ticks. The virus is transmitted from oral and nasal exposure and either through direct or indirect contact. It is transferred directly by putting infected pigs with healthy pigs, and indirectly by contact with the virus from excretions, secretions, and infected tissues including the ingestions of contaminated pork or meat products.
SIGNS OF AFRICAN SWINE FEVER IN PIGS
Fever beginning 4-5 days after infection followed by dullness, breathing difficulty, fever, vomiting, coughing, abortion in pregnant sows, Red or blue blotches on the skin (Particularly around ears and snout), and death within 7 days.
If you suspect your pigs are infected with African swine fever, contact your licensed veterinarian immediately.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
There is currently no cure to the African Swine Fever virus. Prevention is by means of slaughter, carcass destruction, and disinfection policy once the presence of the disease has been confirmed. The disease is Notifiable and the veterinary services of the country concerned are responsible for its control, prohibiting pig movement, supervising the slaughter of all animals on the affected farm, the destruction of their carcasses, thorough cleaning and disinfection of the premises, tightening biosecurity measures by means of fencing the pig farm to keep them inside and monitor them so as not to mix with other pigs. All pigs in contact are traced and examined for signs of disease, and the meat gotten from affected animals are destroyed.