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USDA Continues Monitoring for African Swine Fever as it Persists Globally

African swine fever (ASF) has not entered the U.S. thanks to continuing efforts to prevent this deadly swine disease from reaching the country’s borders. However, ASF continues to affect swine herds globally, entering five new European countries in 2023, according to a report from the Association of Pig Farmers in Germany (ISN).

Countries have been forced to slaughter herds, ban imports on pig products, and implement greater biosecurity measures on farms. Researchers are also working on developing vaccines.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, formerly OIE) reports that in the past three years, ASF has been identified in five different regions in 52 countries. It’s currently widespread and endemic in sub-Saharan and parts of western Africa, and has spread through Europe, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and some Asian countries, notably China.

The highly contagious and deadly viral disease shows no signs of stopping. A surge in cases happened at the beginning of 2023 in China after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and people traveled for the Lunar New Year.

Total cases across the EU were well above the previous year’s level. With a total of 12,121 outbreaks, the numbers were almost double compared to 2022. Poland remains the country most affected by ASF. Outbreaks occurred for the first time in Greece, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Sweden. In Greece and Kosovo, it was apparently a point entry, as the virus no longer spread there, according to the ISN report. Russia and Ukraine reported recurrences of ASF in late 2023.

USDA APHIS and state efforts
Since ASF was detected in the Dominican Republic and Haiti in 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has enhanced existing safeguards. This includes strengthening its partnership with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff at ports of entry, increased inspection of passengers and products arriving from affected countries, and advanced risk-based restrictions on imports of pork and pork products from affected countries.

“The U.S. swine herd is a 100% naive population and an introduction into any pigs in the U.S. would eliminate our export markets immediately,” said Dr. Harry Snelson, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV). “U.S. pork producers export approximately 27% of the pork we produce, so, the loss of our export capabilities would be financially devastating in addition to the impact it would have on the health and wellbeing of the pigs we produce.”

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