SOUTH AFRICA – New cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) were recently reported on a farm in Gauteng prompting the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to confirm and announce a new outbreak of ASF in South Africa.

The farm has been put on quarantine with forward and back-tracing investigations being carried out by the Provincial Veterinary Services to identify any properties that may have had direct or indirect contact with the infected animals, according to the department.

The source of the infection on the farm is still at large but it is said to have been on the farm since mid-December last year.

The first cases of the outbreak of ASF in South Africa were reported in 2019, eventually spreading to many other areas of the country but the department recently informed that the spread of the disease had slowed down.

This was until the recently identified cases came to light.

More farms in Gauteng, North West and Free State have been placed in precautionary quarantine for their AFS status to be established before the quarantine can be lifted.

This was done to ensure control measures are being put in place; movement is being controlled and awareness is spread to highlight essential biosecurity measures to enable pig owners to prevent infection of their pigs.

Tips on how to keep ASF at bay

Pig farmers and pig keepers have been instructed to only purchase pigs directly from known healthy herds and to prevent contact between their pigs and other pigs or wildlife.

“Anyone who has contact with pigs should wash their hands before and after handling the pigs. Before moving to other farms, one should ensure that they have thoroughly showered and to only use clean clothes, shoes, and equipment,” the department further directed.

Pig farmers and livestock keepers are required to report all cases or suspicions of ASF  to the State Veterinary Services as emphasised by the department in accordance with the terms of the Animal Diseases Act, (Act 35 of 1984) which quantifies ASF as a controlled disease.

They are encouraged to report any increased deaths or unusual symptoms and are reminded that section 11 of the Animal Disease Act makes every animal keeper responsible for preventing the further spread of the disease from their animals to other areas.

The department also advised veterinarians across the country to rule out the possibility of ASF every time there is increased mortality on a farm.

Rough time ahead for the pig industry

This outbreak is among the most significant challenges to swine production in the nation where pork consumption although negligible compared to lamb and beef is fast gaining popularity.

According to the South African Ministry of Agriculture, 400 companies are operating in the pig sector in the country.

Pork production in South Africa has experienced remarkable growth over the last decade, reaching an annual increase of 3.5% thanks to the sustained increase in pork consumption.

This progress is however expected to slow down rapidly this year as ASF decimates swine population that had just started to bud to respond to the country’s rising appetite for pork.

Rise in prices of the principal foodstuffs used in pig production, maize and soya: the prolonged droughts that South Africa has experienced recently, the current energy crisis is further expected to complicate issues for the South African pork industry.

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