USDA says watch for African swine fever

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jack Shere, is reminding pig producers and veterinarians of the signs and symptoms of a deadly swine disease that could dramatically impact the U.S. pig population.

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious foreign animal disease that affects both domestic and feral (wild) pigs.

It does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans.

“ASF has never been detected in the United States and we want to keep it that way,” said Shere. “On-farm biosecurity is critical and plans should be evaluated to ensure strict procedures designed to keep animals healthy are being followed at all times.”

USDA accredited veterinarians can review and assess biosecurity plans if needed.

Biosecurity training is essential for all farm workers and visitors to understand the significance of disease prevention in order to protect U.S. pigs.

Vigilance is also crucial to disease prevention and USDA wants all veterinarians and producers to recognize the signs and symptoms of ASF:

  • High Fever
  • Decreased appetite and weakness
  • Red/blotchy skin lesions
  • Diarrhea, vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) urges anyone who suspects sick pigs to report it immediately to their veterinarian, or to State or Federal animal health officials.

USDA’s hotline to report foreign animal diseases is 866-536-7593.

“Quick detection of any illness helps prevent large outbreaks,” said Shere. “We would rather be called out to investigate an illness and rule out a foreign animal disease than have someone wait to call us, allowing a disease to spread to other animals and herds.”

Recent ASF detections abroad prompted USDA to further evaluate these protective measures and take additional steps to prevent ASF from entering the country.

USDA restricted imports of pork and pork products from affected countries and works closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection for increased screenings of visitors and products from high risk countries at U.S. ports of entry.

USDA continues to work with a wide range of partners including the swine industry, our producers, other government agencies and neighboring countries to keep ASF out of North America.

At the same time, we have response plans in place and incident management teams ready to deploy in case ASF does reach the United States.

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