What is African Swine Fever?
African swine fever (ASF) is an infectious and usually fatal disease that afflicts members of the pig family, to include domestic pigs and wild/feral boar. While it does not affect humans, we can quite easily transmit the disease, and need to take care. The disease has the potential to inflict serious damage both to wild boar populations, and to the agricultural pig market.
How is it spread?
ASF is highly contagious and can be spread in a number of ways such as:
- Contact between healthy animals and infected animals. In this case the disease is usually spread via bodily fluids or faecal matter
- Consumption of infected meat by healthy animals
- Through contact with any contaminated materials such as vehicles, clothes etc.
What is the current situation?
ASF has been found in many Eastern European countries (including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland). However, most recently it has been found in the wild in Belgium, representing a huge leap. The main priority is to prevent the further spread of the disease, both in Europe and into the UK.
What can we do to prevent the spread?
BASC is currently part of an ASF task force, working closely with several of the key European hunting authorities. As part of this, we are exploring ways of limiting and eliminating the threat, and are also putting together guidance and training for hunters to raise the awareness of the disease.
As individuals, many of us will be planning on heading to Europe to hunt boar, and by taking a few precautions we can help to prevent the spread of ASF. These precautions include:
- Don’t bring home any meat from pigs/boar that has come from any country known to be infected with ASF.
- Ensuring the proper disposal of the gralloch, pluck and other waste materials of boar in such countries
- When hunting in an area with ASF always thoroughly clean any material that came into contact with wild boar/pigs. This includes clothing, boots, knives, guns, vehicles etc. The use of proper cleaning materials is highly important, not just hot water!
- Keep a keen eye for any boar acting unusually or anything untoward with boar carcasses. Signs can include loss of appetite and energy leading to a thin emaciated pig, discharge from the eyes and nose, coughing or labored breathing and an unsteadiness when walking
- If you find any dead wild boar or you suspect ASF in any spotted boar, immediately contact the veterinarian authorities, give an exact location and don’t move the carcass.
For further information…
Please visit any of the following links for more information on ASF:
If you suspect ASF in any boar or pigs in the UK, or indeed suspect any other potentially notifiable disease in any wild animal, please contact the Defra Rural Advice Helpline on 03000 200301.