Living in COVID-19 times, let's not make it ASF times too

African swine fever continues to make a dent in pig populations in India, Poland, Asia and beyond.


Ann Hess, National Hog Farmer 

Jun 30, 2020


Sixteen weeks ago, and before COVID-19 became the "new normal," I attended the American Association of Swine Veterinarians Annual Meeting in Atlanta where I had the opportunity to hear Clayton Johnson's top five biosecurity strategies for preventing African swine fever. At that time, the director of Health at Carthage Veterinary Service Ltd. warned the audience that as ASF gets closer, it's important U.S. pork producers do not become complacent.


Now as communities and states start to open back up from COVID-19 quarantines, I hear health experts warning people to not get too complacent with their own "biosecurity" protocols in protecting themselves and others from coronavirus. Whether we are talking about animal or human health, it always seems to come back to the people, the protocols and consistent implementation or simply, not letting your guard down.


With COVID-19 drowning out other news today, I am thankful for organizations such as the National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council, Swine Health Information Center and AASV that are keeping us on our toes and up-to-date with the latest pork industry information, especially regarding ASF. Because, as Johnson pointed out way back in March, half the world's swine population has been wiped out due to ASF. And according to the latest Pork Checkoff Foreign Animal Disease Preparation Bulletin, ASF is continuing to make a dent in India, Poland, Asia and beyond.


Authorities in India officially reported ASF to the World Organization for Animal Health last month after tests confirmed pigs on several farms were positive for the disease in the far northeastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. In all, the official OIE report showed 10,920 infected pigs in the affected districts of both states and deaths of 3,701 pigs with 4,199 cases. The report further showed a mortality rate of 34% and a fatality rate at 88% due to ASF.


On June 15, the Polish Central Veterinary Inspectorate reported 23 pigs and one sow on a backyard farm were confirmed ASF-positive...


German officials and producers have been quite worried...