Listen in as AABP Executive Director Dr. Fred Gingrich has a conversation with American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) Executive Director Dr. Harry Snelson about African Swine Fever (ASF). ASF is a viral disease of swine that causes high morbidity and mortality when introduced into a herd. It is a hemorrhagic virus that causes fever, hemorrhagic disease and septicemia. Supportive care typically does not reduce the mortality associated with the disease and once introduced, the only current method of control is depopulation. Dr. Snelson informs us that there are vaccines being developed that may provide protection to pigs and decrease the spread of the disease.
ASF was originally identified in sub-Saharan Africa in the early 1900s and first appeared outside of that region in the country of Georgia in 2007. The disease primarily spreads from contact with infected pigs, and therefore feral hogs can spread it across open-land borders. ASF spread through Russia, eastern Europe, and then in 2018, it appeared in China. China is the largest pork-producing nation as well as the largest consumer of pork. China also exports products that could serve as fomites for the spread of ASF. Snelson discusses the work of USDA, state animal health officials and the Customs and Border Protection agency to keep ASF out of the mainland U.S.. He reminds our listeners to be diligent about preventing the introduction of a foreign animal disease like ASF by not bringing in agricultural products when traveling outside of the U.S. and declaring farm visits or animal contact to customs upon re-entry. If ASF were introduced into the U.S., it would cause significant animal health issues due to the morbidity and mortality associated with the disease, as well as economic losses to the pork industry estimated at over $8 billion. The U.S. exports 27% of the pork we produce, and although there are no food safety issues or zoonotic concerns with ASF, the loss of exports and concerns from the public could have long lasting effects on the entire agricultural industry.
For information about AASV and to learn about their annual conference February 26 to March 1, 2022, in Indianapolis, visit https://aasv.org/.
To read the Iowa State University study on the impact of the introduction of ASF into the US, visit this link.