The USDA’s confirmation that African Swine Fever (ASF) has turned up in the Dominican Republic changes the metrics for pork consumers in the United States.
Classical Swine Fever was in the Dominican Republic almost 40 years ago, but ASF changes things. North America is no longer free of the virus that’s been sweeping the globe, and only 800 miles separate U.S. swine from the disease.
What isn’t changing is the prohibition on exporting Dominican pork to the United States. The ban on Dominican pork exports to the United States exists because of the country’s history with swine fever.
Classic swine fever swept through the Dominican Republic between 1978 and 1980 when the country’s pork farmers destroyed 192,000 pigs in 374 locations with the virus.
The Dominican Republic is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region.
It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with Haiti, making Hispaniola one of only two Caribbean islands, including Saint Martin, shared by two sovereign states.
The Dominican’s previous swine fever outbreak also involved Haiti, Cuba, and Brazil. Until the latest report from the Dominican Republic, the last known report from anywhere in the Americas was 1982.
According to the U.S. Swine Health Information Center, not much is known about the two Dominican farms with the new ASF discoveries, except that they are geographically separated.
USDA’s Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed the ASF from samples of Dominican pigs involved in a cooperative surveillance program.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has enacted defenses against ASF from entering the United States. The ban on pork and pork products extends to exports from the Dominican Republic to the U.S.
Travelers to the United States may not bring pork products into the U.S. Airline garbage is even checked against any ASF transmission.
In four years, ASF swept out of China to almost all corners of the world — but not North America. Not yet, anyway.
The ASF finding in the Dominican Republic comes as more than 1,300 participants from 132 countries representing the public as well as the private sectors have enlisted the global event “Stop ASF: public and private partnering for success” to identify collaboration opportunities that can help better prevent and control the disease.
The worldwide public-private virtual project has focused on key drivers for success.
Stop ASF, say, organizers, is a reaction to the major global animal disease outbreaks of our generation, the current ASF crisis has generated millions of animal losses over the past couple of years and has confiscated the livelihoods of families who depend on pig farming.
When it comes to tackling ASF, they say the public-private partnership stands as a key priority as the swine value chain not only includes pig keepers, but also those involved in the input supply, processing, marketing, and trading, as well as consumption.
Therefore, they say improved exchange of knowledge, increased awareness, and trust among public and private stakeholders are crucial in implementing efficient and coordinated ASF control strategies.
The report of the Stop ASF event will soon be available and will outline the key opportunities for public-private partnership identified during the event.
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Editor’s note: This article was changed from its original post.