African Swine Fever

Agricultural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery November 18, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

PIgs in a pasture.

What Is It and Why Should I Care?

African Swine Fever is a highly contagious disease of pigs that is clinically indistinguishable from Classical Swine Fever. Pigs most often contract the disease from eating food scraps contaminated with the virus, which can survive in frozen carcasses for several years. The African Swine Fever virus can also be spread to pigs through tick bites and is the only DNA virus that is transmitted by ticks. African Swine Fever spreads rapidly from pig to pig through contact with nasal secretions, blood, feces, and ingestion of contaminated meat or contact with contaminated equipment and clothing.

An outbreak of African Swine Fever in the Dominican Republic and Haiti in 1978-79 led the United States to depopulate the pig population of these countries in order to protect the U.S. pig industry. The widespread depopulation of the pigs illustrates the devastating impact that African Swine Fever can have on the pig industry and the U.S. economy.


Where is the Disease Found?

Africa, Russia, Ukraine and Sardinia, Italy. The United States and Canada are considered free of this disease.

Can the Disease Affect People?

African Swine Fever is not a public health threat.

What are Signs to Look For?

  • Sudden death
  • High fever
  • Reddening of skin around ears, tail and abdomen
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Lethargy
  • Behavior changes including depression
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abortion

Can It Be Treated?

There is no specific treatment for African Swine Fever. In the acute (sudden onset) form of the disease, the death rate can be as high as 100 percent. Any pig suspected of having African Swine Fever should be reported to State Veterinarians or the USDA Area Veterinarian in Charge immediately.

How Can the Disease Be Prevented?

The entry of African Swine Fever into the United States can be prevented by following basic farm biosecurity procedures including quarantining pigs of unknown health status and feeding only properly processed food. Food waste (plate waste, kitchen or table scraps, garbage) must be boiled for 30 minutes to kill viruses and bacteria before being fed to pigs.

There is no vaccine for African Swine Fever.

Pig, perineal skin. There is a large sharply demarcated zone of hyperemia. As mentioned above, reddening of skin around ears, tail and abdomen is a characteristic of this disease. Credit: PIADC.

Pigs in a field.
Pig, skin. Necrotic exudate is sloughing from the lesion on the left. There is a rim of hyperemia around the focus of hemorrhage and necrosis (infarct) on the right. Credit: PIADC

Where Can I Find Additional Information?

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.