Pig owners urged to heighten biosecurity to contain swine fever

21 February 2024 | eRadio News

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has urged pig farmers to heighten biosecurity measures following laboratory results confirming African Swine Fever (ASF) in pigs of small farmers on the outskirts of Groeneweide Park, George.

ASF is a virus that affects pigs and there is no vaccination or treatment currently available for the prevention of the disease.

The department said the new outbreak confirmed recently is the fourth outbreak of disease in the Garden Route area since 2022.

“Previously, there had been outbreaks in KwaNonqaba and Mossel Bay in 2022 and 2023, which were both resolved; and an outbreak in Thembalethu in 2022, which remains a concern. It is estimated that about 45 pigs have died thus far, with about 250 pigs remaining in the area,” department spokesperson Daniel Johnson said.

Johnson said the area has been placed under quarantine, and community members have been urged to not remove any pigs or pig products from the area to prevent the further spread of the disease.

Johnson has also emphasised that ASF virus is specific to pigs and does not affect humans or other species of animals.

“The public needs to know that pigs slaughtered at abattoirs have undergone meat inspection. Pork products found in supermarkets are safe for human consumption,” Johnson said.

Critical measures to minimise the spread of ASF 

•    All carcasses should be disposed of safely.
•    Pigs should be confined to prevent roaming and potentially picking up and spreading the disease.
•    Hands, shoes, clothing and equipment should be sanitised before and after being in contact with a pig.
•    Any meat products should be thoroughly cooked before being fed to pigs.
•    Farmers should confirm that any purchased pigs are bought from known ASF-free herds.

Usually, the first signs of an ASF outbreak are the sudden death of pigs, and in some cases, other symptoms can include breathing difficulties, redness of the skin, especially underneath the pig and on the ears, hind leg weakness and loss of appetite.

“Occasionally, the pig may also have blood in their faeces and their vomit. Should these signs be seen, please contact your closest State Veterinary Office at https://www.elsenburg.com/veterinary-services/animal-health-and-disease,” Johnson said.

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