Fighting Swine Fever: Avoid these blunders


By Jecinta Mwirigi, Daily Monitor (Uganda)  

February 8 2020


The world’s pig population stands slightly at over 770 million, with China contributing about 400 million to that figure.


The East African countries are not left behind with a 2012 report indicating that Kenya had 354,600; Burundi 377,038; Rwanda 989,316; Tanzania 500,000 and Uganda 2.4 million.


Pigs contribute significantly to food security due to their high birth rate. However, African Swine Fever (ASF) remains the biggest threat to the animals.


The disease is endemic in East Africa having been confirmed in Kenya last September. The outbreak of the disease is aggravated by the fact that there is no commercial vaccine for it.


The good news is that with strict livestock husbandry, a farmer can keep the disease at bay. Key management practices include rearing pigs in confinement; not feeding them swill and if the food waste has to be used, it must be heated.


ASF affects pigs of all ages with morbidity (infection) and mortality (death rate) approaching 100 per cent in a given unit.


The disease affects both domestic and wild pigs and transmission is through direct contact, through the soft tick vector that affects the animals and indirect contact by vehicles and human feet, clothes and equipment from infected premises.


The virus is resistant to a wide range of pH and freeze/thaw temperatures and can remain infectious for many months at room temperature or when stored at 4oC. It can also remain in processed meat for several weeks. However, the virus in body fluids is inactivated in 30 minutes at 60oC. The virus is restricted to pigs and does not affect humans. The clinical signs appear 5-15 days after the virus introduction and they include sudden death and or high fever (up to 42oC), purplish discolouration of the abdomen and extremities of legs and ears.


In chronic cases, the animals might be found lying on their sides paddling and with laboured breathing and vomiting is not unusual. Diagnosis is through serum and organ samples taken during post-mortem examination.


Human transmitters ...


ASF control measures ...