African Swine Fever outbreaks

Since April 2019, South Africa has experienced outbreaks of ASF in the North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Free State provinces.

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Highly contagious and high mortality rate, this is how one can describe African Swine Fever. It can also be described as devastating to the farmers, financially as well as to their stock.
The Bulletin reported on the outbreak in eMbalenhle in last week’s publication. Efforts to obtain a statement from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries proved problematic. It took calls to the Minister’s office to obtain the correct details of the Media Liaison Officer (MLO).
The MLO was extremely helpful in providing two statements.
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza, MP, has met with MECs from three provinces that were affected by African Swine Fever in Pretoria on 23 August. The Minister’s meeting was aimed at getting a briefing on the status of the African Swine Fever outbreak in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West provinces.
The meeting, attended by senior managers from the affected departments and the national department, looked at various ways of dealing with the outbreak and finding a permanent solution.
“We have to look at various options such as institutional arrangements working with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and also reflect on the issue of animal commonages in the affected areas,” said Minister Didiza.  
The Minister and MECs have set up a task team to urgently look into ways to cab the spread of the diseases to other provinces. South Africa has been experiencing African Swine Fever outbreaks in domestic pigs in the previous free area from 2012 by means of the domestic cycle of ASF.
Since April 2019, South Africa has experienced outbreaks of ASF in the North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Free State provinces.
The affected areas are Daveyton in Gauteng, Delmas and Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga and Marikana in the North West. There have been interventions to contain the spread of ASF, such as active surveillance and awareness carried out in the immediate vicinity and passive surveillance is still ongoing.
The Minister has urged pig farmers to make sure that infected animals are isolated and destroyed under the supervision of or by an officer or authorised person.
Minister Didiza also urged officials to make sure that the spread of the ASF is quickly managed. 
“We will be engaging with Ministers of Finance and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to ask for their assistance to quickly respond to this challenge,” said Minister Didiza.
South Africa has reported seventeen (17) outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) outside of the ASF controlled area since the beginning of April 2019 in the North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Free State Provinces.
The main indication of the disease is that large numbers of pigs are found dead. Other signs include that pigs may also stop eating, are listless and show breathing difficulties; display redness on the skin, especially the ears and abdomen and may even have bleeding from the nose and rectum.
Biosecurity is the only way to prevent ASF affecting your pigs:

  • Only buy pigs from confirmed healthy herds: auctions are a mixture of multiple pigs of unknown origin and therefore a high risk – avoid visiting and buying from auctions
  • Confine pigs so that they cannot come into contact with other pigs and possible infected material (kitchen waste and carcases)
  • Avoid feeding swill (left overs or kitchen waste); if this is not possible, ensure that the food is cooked thoroughly to inactivate the virus (the virus can remain infectious in meat for months); the added benefit to this is that you will be destroying other diseases with the cooking such as measles, Foot-and-mouth disease, pseudorabies, etc.
  • Avoid allowing people/vehicles/equipment onto your farm as they may have been in contact with other pigs or infectious material.
    Be vigilant and report any pig deaths to the nearest State Veterinary Office.
    The current outbreak of ASF in pigs in South Africa does not pose any threat to human health and the consumption of pork and pork products is safe.
    The ASF took its toll on the pig population in eMbalenhle with carcasses laying everywhere. Some of the farmers started to dispose of the carcasses in the river system increasing the possibility of contaminating other areas downstream.
    Some farmers told The Bulletin that no help had been given by the Department. They have asked and were told that the state vet will return the following week. No quarantine nor any preventative measures were put in place according to some of the farmers.
    While Lekwa has also reported a case of ASF, pig farmers can only be vigilant and hope the disease does not spread!

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