African Swine Fever is a disease which is threatening the swine industry around the globe, as this article is being written. The virus first made appearance in Africa. Later, it spread to Europe and more recently the cases started to appear in the Asia as well. As the Chinese city of Wuhan attempts to battle Corona Virus, African Swine Fever is another virus which is worth understanding because of the major scale trouble it has caused.
1. It’s a virus which affects pigs
African Swine Fever affects the pigs, because the DNA strain of the virus is able to attach itself to both domestic and wild pigs. The virus has a high morbidity and mortality rate in naive pigs. Wild pigs, called boars, as well as the domesticated pigs are equally affected by the virus.
2. Humans are inherently immune
There is not a single case which might have supported that humans can get infected with African Swine Fever. Therefore, so far, it appears that humans have an inherent immunity against the virus. It can not make a human sick.
3. ASF case first appeared in Africa
Kenya was the first country to report the case of African Swine Fever in 1921. The disease affected the pigs with 100% mortality. The causes of the virus spread in Africa were identified as free-range pig production system, lack of bio-security and local pig movements.
4. It transmits through two modes
Like all viruses, ASF also spreads and in its case two modes are identified. One is called as sylvatic cycle in which ticks act as vectors i-e virus carriers – commonly it’s called as tick-pig cycle. Second one is called, sylvatic-domestic cycle – commonly called as pig-pig cycle. The adult wild pigs faeces or meat can expose domesticated pigs to ASF.
5. It spread to Asia and Europe other than Africa
The virus after its initial outbreak in Africa, made its way to the South Europe. It first appeared in Moldova in 2016, then in Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. In August 2018, the virus was reported in China. Later in January 2019, Mongolia also reported a case. Further, Vietnam and Cambodia also reported similar cases.
6. 2016-2019 : 2.5 million pigs were lost
The data collected by World Organisation for Animal Health provides details of the losses incurred due to the African Swine Fever. The report shows that between 2016-19 around 2.5 million pigs were lost.
7. Prevention and control is only treatment
There is no treatment available for African Swine Fever. The only available path for its eradication is good preparedness, control and prevention. The cleanliness and blocking the modes of its transmission help for its eradication. Following good hygienic practice, while rearing pigs, in accordance with international codes is the only solution. Animals shouldn’t be fed meat.
8. ASF virus survives for long time outside the host
The indirect transmission of virus can happen as well, such as through the farm equipments, vehicles and farmer clothes. The reason behind the indirect spread is its long life outside the host.
9. 2019: ASF wipes a quarter of Chinese swine industry
China in the beginning of 2020 fights off Corona virus, while the previous year, the swine industry faced a setback due to the African Swine Flu. According to the Al-Jazeera, the virus wiped out 60% of the Chinese swine industry. Symptoms of high fever, respiratory illness and ultimate death have been reported.
10. ASF serves as an economic trouble
The spread of ASF proves to be a bad thing for the economy. The countries which use pigs as a primary source of their earnings are severely affected. Further, the small scale farmers who are less aware of the hygienic practices are thrown out of the business, because of the 100% mortality.