If you suspect symptoms of swine fever (either ASF or CSF) in your pigs please contact the emergency Animal Disease Hotline immediately on 1800 675 888
What are African swine fever and classical swine fever?
African swine fever (ASF) and classical swine fever (CSF) are highly contagious viral diseases of pigs. They are clinically similar, and cannot be definitively distinguished from each other in the field. Laboratory testing is required to confirm a diagnosis. Although the diseases appear similar, they are caused by completely unrelated viruses.
CSF, often known as 'hog cholera' is caused by a virus from the pestivirus genus of the family Flaviviridae, and is closely related to the virus that causes bovine viral diarrhoea (mucosal disease) in cattle and border disease (hairy shaker disease) in sheep.
ASF is caused by a virus that is unrelated to the classical swine fever virus and has a more complex genetic structure.
Both ASF and CSF affect pigs only, and do not infect humans and other livestock.
What clinical signs should I be worried about?
Acute forms of both ASF and CSF can cause very high death rates, with mortality approaching 100% in the most severe form of ASF. Both diseases may also occur in milder forms with lower mortality rates.
Swine fever could be considered a possibility in any case of sudden increase in deaths in a group of pigs. Clinical signs of acute forms of both ASF and CSF include fever, depression, loss of appetite, and red, purple or blue blotching of the ears, nose, and limbs. Vomiting and diarrhoea (bloody diarrhoea for ASF) may occur as the disease progresses, along with coughing and breathing difficulties. Abortion may occur in sows.
Don't assume that these diseases will always cause very large numbers of pig deaths - both diseases can occur in a milder form, with lower mortality rates, a longer course of disease and less acute signs such as depression, loss of appetite, fluctuating fever and poor weight gain. These situations also should be investigated by a veterinarian.
How does swine fever spread?
The diseases spread through direct contact with infected pigs, or contact with contaminated pens, trucks or clothing. In both diseases, pigs can remain carriers of the disease for long period and therefore moving pigs during an outbreak must be very restricted.
Swill feeding plays a major role in spreading ASF and CSF within and between countries. Swill feeding is basically the feeding of meat or meat contaminated materials (for example kitchen waste) to pigs. Both ASF and CSF may survive for long periods in processed, refrigerated or frozen meats. Most of the international spread of ASF has been associated with the swill feeding of garbage from international airports or seaports. The feeding of illegally imported meat to pigs is the most likely way that one of these diseases could enter Australia.
ASF is also transmitted by soft ticks (Family Argasidae) in Africa. Similar ticks are found associated with kangaroos in Australia.
Where are African and classical swine fever found?
Outbreaks of CSF have occurred and been eradicated in Australia in the past, with the last one occurring in 1961. There have been no known occurrences of ASF in Australia.
CSF is widespread in Africa, South America and Asia but has been eradicated from most countries in Europe.
ASF is present in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa and areas of eastern Europe. In September 2018 the disease was detected for the first time in western Europe (Belgium) and continues to be detected intermittently.
In 2018 ASF was reported for the first time in China. It is believed that the virus has been circulating since March 2018. China has the largest herd of pigs in the world, and this outbreak has reduced that herd so significantly that it is having global ramifications. The disease is moving to neighbouring countries in southeast Asia, with significant losses incurred in Vietnam since March 2019. The spread is expected to continue.
How can I reduce my pigs' risk of catching swine fever?
Pigs must not be fed anything that contains or has had contact with meat or meat products (Swill). The feeding of swill to pigs is prohibited in all Australian states and territories. For more information, see Swill and Restricted Animal Materials Feeding
Use sound biosecurity measures. Record who visits your property and limit who has contact with your pigs. Ensure all visitors and workers, particularly if they have been overseas, are wearing clean clothes and disinfected boots on entry. Never allow a visitor to feed ‘treats’ to your pigs.
How do I report if I think I have swine fever in my pigs?
Both African and classical swine fever are Notifiable Diseases. If one of these diseases were introduced, they would not only pose a major disease risk to your pigs but also have a have a very severe impact on the pig industry, through loss of pigs and disruption of pig export markets.
If you see signs that may be African or classical swine fever in your pigs, isolate the pigs and immediately contact: