What can you do to help improve ASF surveillance?

Producers and veterinarians have opportunity to help improve ASF surveillance.


Albert Rovira, University of Minnesota

via National Hog Farmer - Oct 12, 2021


African swine fever (ASF) has been spreading quickly in the past ten years in several parts of the world, including Asia, Eastern Europe, and more recently in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This disease causes high mortality in affected pigs, and vaccines do not effectively protect against it. For all these reasons, it is considered one of the main threats to U.S. swine production.


The USDA’s ASF surveillance plan involves testing numerous samples for ASF at the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostics laboratory, or at one of the partner laboratories of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN). This surveillance plan includes a passive surveillance component and an active surveillance component; the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UMVDL) participates in both of these. The passive surveillance component relies on producers and veterinarians identifying cases with clinical signs consistent with ASF, which are then investigated by USDA and state veterinarians through foreign animal disease investigations. The UMVDL is one of 48 NAHLN laboratories authorized to test for ASF in these instances, however such an investigation has only been done once at the UMVDL in the past two years. Therefore, there is room for improvement in this area, and the role of veterinarians and producers is critical to identify candidate cases.


The active surveillance component has three different sources of samples: 1) sick pigs submitted to diagnostic laboratories, 2) pigs from slaughter plants, and 3) pigs from higher-risk farms. The UMVDL is one of 10 NAHLN laboratories involved in testing sick pigs from clinical cases and pigs from slaughter plants. During the period from January 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021, the UMVDL tested 2,900 samples for ASF (Fig. 1).


Both sample sources are seeing an increase of tests in 2021 compared to 2020, specifically for sick pig submissions. While the increasing trend is encouraging, there may be room for improvement....


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