Current animal health crises: the problem of African swine fever

14-07-2020
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Below is the latest news on African swine fever, a disease that arouses both curiosity and concern.

Animal health is extremely important today because it conditions animal production, public health and international trade. This is why the competent public authorities are working hard to maintain the health status of farms. Today, one of the animal diseases that conditions the international animal trade is African swine fever.

African swine fever: general

A pig in a cage affected by African swine fever

African swine fever, known by its acronym PPA, is a viral disease discovered in Kenya in the early 20th century. The virus responsible is part of the family Asfarviridae .

Transmission

Transmission can be by direct contact with infected pigs or by eating leftover infected pig meat.

Ticks of the species Ornithodoros spp. also act as a vector for the transmission of this disease . They ingest the virus by sucking infected blood and transmit it by feeding on susceptible animals.

Symptoms

Pigs infected with this virus first suffer from general discomfort with fever, apathy and anorexia. Then, pathognomonic signs derived from vascular lesions, such as redness of the skin and cyanosis, appear.

Some animals also suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, and even miscarriages. And the pathology generally ends in the death of the animal within a few days. In domestic pigs , we speak of a mortality rate of 100% .

Intensive breeding pigs suffering from African swine fever

Control and prophylaxis

It is essential to prevent the disease from entering a farm :

  • Control of access to livestock facilities
  • Extreme cleaning of facilities and vehicles , including disinfection of boots, truck cages, etc. As well as personal hygiene
  • Control of the entry of other animals from outside the holding

The global situation of the African swine fever health crisis

Origin and evolution of the disease in Europe

The virus was detected for the first time on the European continent in 1957, in Portugal. From there it spread to Spain, becoming endemic in pigs across the peninsula in the 1960s .

This has caused serious economic damage, both from sick animals and from the ban on exports of pigs or pork products. This has caused serious economic damage, both from sick animals and the ban on exports of pigs or pork products.

The considerable economic effort made has borne fruit and, after several livestock health campaigns, ASF was eradicated in Spain in the 1990s . Since then, it has been under surveillance in the national herd, under the watchful eye of the authorities.

Surveillance of wild boars is essential to avoid unexpected infections in extensive livestock, such as Iberian pigs.

The African swine fever health crisis and its impact on the world pork market

Last year, a massive epidemic of African swine fever was detected in pigs in Asia . This epidemic has spread, affecting a large part of the cattle population in high-production countries, such as China.

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