Ag Policy Blog

USDA Details Additional Steps to Prevent African Swine Fever

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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African Swine Fever is a highly contagious disease for hogs that has been sweeping through China in recent months. ASF could cause catastrophic financial damage if it shows up in North America. (DTN file photo)

USDA announced Wednesday more are being taken as officials work to keep African Swine Fever from entering the U.S.

African Swine Fever (ASF) is a viral disease that affects both domestic and wild hogs and can create severe production and economic losses, according to the World Organization for Animal Health, known as the (OIE). The disease can be spread by both live or dead pigs as well as pork products, and it can be transmitted by contaminated feed or other objects such as shoes, clothing or equipment because ASF has a high environmental tolerance. The OIE adds that there is no approved vaccine for ASF and outbreaks are continuing to grow.

USDA stated the disease is spread by contact with body fluids of infected animals and also can be spread by dicks that feed on infected animals.

Also important to note: African Swine Fever doesn't affect people and is not a food-safety issue.

In recent months and weeks, the dominant volume of cases are coming from China, which reported more than 27,000 animals lost in the last two weeks of February, as well as Vietnam, which reported more than 2,000 animals lost to ASF. In Europe, Romania reported 117 animals infected over the last two weeks, but several countries Eastern Europe have reported outbreaks in recent months, which were largely spread by feral hogs. That's based on a report last week from the OIE.

In China, the problem has become severe enough that China's agriculture minister said Monday the country needs to crack down on farmers concealing outbreaks or selling and disposing of sick or dead animals. USDA has a map showing confirmed cases throughout Chinese provinces and Mongolia.…

At the USDA Outlook Forum last month, officials cautioned an outbreak would cost the pork industry billions of dollars if ASF were to show up in North America.

USDA on Wednesday announced additional multi-agency efforts to tighten up the border against possible entry of the disease. Those initiatives include:

-Work with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to train and add 60 additional beagle teams for a total of 179 teams working at key U.S. commercial, sea, and air ports;

-Coordinate with CBP on the further expansion of arrival screenings at key U.S. commercial sea and air ports – including checking cargo for illegal pork/pork products and ensuring travelers who pose an ASF risk receive secondary agricultural inspection;

-Increase inspections and enforcement of garbage feeding facilities to ensure fed garbage is cooked properly to prevent potential disease spread;

-Heighten producer awareness and encourage self-evaluations of on-farm biosecurity procedures;

-Work to develop accurate and reliable testing procedures to screen for the virus in grains, feeds and additives, and swine oral fluid samples;

-Work closely with officials in Canada and Mexico on a North American coordinated approach to ASF defense, response, and trade maintenance;

-And continue high-level coordination with the U.S. pork industry leadership to assure unified efforts to combat ASF introduction.

Greg Ibach, USDA's undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said USDA understands the "grave concerns" about African Swine Fever overseas.

“We are committed to working with the swine industry, our producers, other government agencies, and neighboring countries to take these additional steps," Ibach said.

USDA has more information on a website:…

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