Current situation with African swine fever (ASF)
What is ASF?
ASF is an exotic, highly contagious viral disease affecting both domesticated and wild pigs. It spreads rapidly through contact with infected animals or contact with contaminated pens, trucks, clothing or feed. Pigs can also remain carriers for the disease for quite some time.
Australia is currently free of ASF. However, if ASF was to enter Australia, it could severely damage our pig meat and associated industries and have devastating consequences for our 2,700 pork producers and 34,000 people working in the industry.
If you see anything unusual in your pigs (no matter how insignificant it may seem) or if you have a number of sudden deaths in your herd, you should report it immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
What’s the current situation?
ASF has been present in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1990s, and increasingly found in eastern Europe since 2016.
Since 2018, ASF has moved into Western Europe (notably Belgium) for the first time, and into Asia. It continues to move quickly through South-East Asia over the past few months, with cases being confirmed in China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, North Korea, South Korea, the Philipines and, most recently, Timor Leste.
Where can I find more information about ASF?
Department of Agriculture – You can go to agriculture.gov.au to find out more about ASF, including what signs to look out for in pigs, as well as biosecurity requirements for incoming passengers and for people who are purchasing goods online from overseas.
You can also visit your relevant State or Territory Department of Agriculture websites for information.
How can you reduce the risk?
One of the easiest ways you can protect Australia’s pork industry from ASF and other disease threats is to feed your pigs the right feed. Food waste that has come into contact with meat or contains meat must not be fed to pigs. This type of food waste, known as swill, could contain viruses such as ASF virus, which can be passed onto your pigs if they consume the infected food waste. Feeding swill to pigs is illegal in Australia.
Sound on-farm biosecurity practices are essential for anyone who has pigs, from commercial pig farmers to backyard pig owners. Ensure you keep good animal health and visitor records, limit movement (e.g. people, pigs, vehicles, equipment, waste etc.) on and off farm property, implement insect, rodent and feral pig controls to get started.
Limit contact between domestic pigs and feral pigs, and do not allow someone to come into contact with your pigs if they have recently returned from overseas.
Resources for producers:
- African swine fever: Disease in-focus (pdf - 70 KB) – a brief summary of ASF, what to look out for and how it can cause disease in pigs.
- Fact Sheet - Responding to African swine fever (pdf - 83 KB) – outlines what you need to know in the event of an ASF outbreak.
- Fact Sheet - Control measures for African swine fever (pdf - 64 KB) – outlines the types of control measures which may be used in an ASF response.
- Fact Sheet - Stakeholders role in an African swine fever response (pdf - 79 KB) – outlines what industry stakeholder groups need to know and what role they play during an ASF response.
- Australian Pork biosecurity – The Australian Pork Limited webpage outlines resources and information to protect your pig herd by practicing on-farm biosecurity to prevent an incursion of ASF on your property.
- Preparing your business to survive an emergency animal disease outbreak: A 30 minute Plan for Piggeries – This planning tool from Australian Pork Limited will assist you in developing an EAD survival plan. Thirty minutes spent completing this plan could improve the resilience of your business if an EAD occurs.
- National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Pork Production – The National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Pork Production identifies areas of risk to pig producers and appropriate measures to minimise the risks. It establishes a minimum set of biosecurity guidelines applicable to all pork producers.
- EAD Foundation Course – If you wish to gain an understanding of Australia’s EAD preparedness and response plans, you can enrol in the EAD Foundation online course. The online course provides livestock producers, veterinarians, veterinary students, government personnel and emergency workers with foundation knowledge for further training in the Emergency Animal Disease Training Program.
- What can I feed my pigs? – Outlines the appropriate food to feed your pigs and the dangers of swill feeding. It contains a number of state and territory resources on swill feeding.
- Farm biosecurity for pigs – You will find the tools to implement the simple, everyday biosecurity practices to protect the health of your livestock, limit production losses and help maintain market access for Australia’s pig farmers.
- PigPass – Whether you only have one pig, ten pigs or 100, no matter the purpose for keeping them you must have a Property Identification Code (PIC). You can contact your relevant State or Territory Department of Agriculture to establish a PIC. The reporting of movements of pigs on and off your property is mandatory in the PigPass database. This will assist tracing pigs in the event of a disease incursion. This is free to use and register.
- Feral pig management – visit your State or Territory Department of Agriculture website.
New South Wales
Resources for veterinarians
- Emergency animal diseases – A field guide for Australian veterinarians – will help veterinarians in the field include appropriate EADs in their differential diagnoses, and take appropriate action if presented with signs of an unusual disease.
- African swine fever: A guide for veterinarians – A guide from Biosecurity Queensland to help veterinarians identify the signs of African swine fever, sampling and laboratory testing advice and information about the virus.