The world needs to rally under a new initiative to bring the deadly pig disease known as African Swine fever (ASF) under control.
That’s the word from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) the two world bodies calling on all nations to join the Global Control of ASF Initiative.
ASF or swine fever is “the other virus” that experts are worried about. It’s on fire from domestic pigs in North Korea to wild boars in Germany. North America, including the United States and Canada, remains swine fever-free. The same cannot be said for Africa, Asia, and Europe and the spread puts North America at risk.
No vaccines or treatments yet exist for swine fever, meaning the only response is to kill all the pigs once it arrives. African swine fever, however, has no direct impact on human health as it is not transmissible from animals to humans.
The highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease is causing massive economic damages around the world, according to OIE. It affects food security and the livelihoods of vulnerable populations, according to FAO.
The recently-launched Global Control of ASF will coordinate and strengthen the control measures to minimize the impact of swine fever.
An Oct. 28-30 call to action brings FAO and OIE together with industry, governments, and specialists to promote the initiative. More than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe are currently affected. ASF has led to the loss of 7 million pigs in Asia alone, and unofficial numbers might be much greater
“Our goal is to prevent the spread – and ultimately eradicate – this disease, leveraging the latest science, best practices, and international standards,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in a video message to the participants. “
“Today, no country is safe from African swine fever,” said OIE Director-General Monique Eloit. “The number of countries across the world reporting outbreaks to the OIE continues to grow. This corresponds to the biggest animal disease outbreak of our generation.”
Government of Canada
African swine fever (ASF) is a viral disease that only impacts pigs. It poses a significant risk to the health of the Canadian swine herd, pork industry, and the Canadian economy. ASF is highly contagious for pigs and can spread rapidly through both direct and indirect contact with infected pigs or pig products, as well as contaminated farm equipment, feed, and clothing. Canada provides more ASF information here.
ASF is found in countries around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. More recently, it has spread through China, Mongolia, and Vietnam, as well as within parts of the European Union. It has never been found in the United States – and we want to keep it that way. USDA provides more ASF information here.