African Swine Fever

  • Category
    Health Issues
  • Published
    2nd Jun, 2020

Context

China, the biggest consumer of pork in the world, has banned the import of pigs and wild boars from India to prevent the spread of the African swine fever (ASF).

About

  • African swine fever (ASF) is a severe viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs.
  • This transboundary animal disease (TAD) can be spread by live or dead pigs, domestic or wild, and pork products; furthermore, transmission can also occur via contaminated feed and fomites (non-living objects) such as shoes, clothes, vehicles, knives, equipment etc., due to the high environmental resistance of ASF virus.
  • There is no approved vaccine against ASF (unlike classical swine fever(‘Hog Cholera’) which is caused by a different virus). For this reason, it has serious socio-economic consequences in affected countries.
  • Humans are not susceptible to the disease.
  • The typical signs of African swine fever are similar to classical swine fever, and the two diseases normally have to be distinguished by laboratory diagnosis.
  • Symptoms: Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, lack of energy, abortions, internal bleeding, with haemorrhages visible on the ears and flanks. Sudden death may occur.
  • Severe strains of the virus are generally fatal (death occurs within 10 days). Animals infected with mild strains of African swine fever virus may not show typical clinical signs.

Outbreaks:

  • Historically, outbreaks have been reported in Africa and parts of Europe, South America, and the Caribbean.
  • It was first detected in Africa in the 1920s.
  • More recently (since 2007) the disease has been reported in multiple countries across Africa, Asia and Europe, in both domestic and wild pigs.

Highlights of the decision:

  • The decision has been taken following cases of ASF being discovered among domestic pigs and wild boar in Assam earlier in May.
  • The ban has taken effect China strives to restore pig production after the deadly disease ravaged its massive herd last year.
  • A sharp 29% plunge in first-quarter output underlines the extent of the impact from the disease and the huge task the sector faces in trying to rebuild after African swine fever killed millions of pigs since August 2018.
  • The ASF outbreak and culling of hogs slashed China’s pork output to a 16-year low of 42.6 million tonnes in 2019, while some experts estimate the sow herd shrank by at least 60% last year after the disease spread throughout the country.
  • In December, tighter border controls put in place by China because of the ASF had impacted the export of buffalo meat from India.

Since February this year, African swine fever (ASF) has killed over 17,000 pigs in Assam and an unknown number in Arunachal Pradesh. This is the first time India has reported the disease, and since ASF hasn’t ‘been’ to India before, officials took some time to confirm its presence.

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