Australia and UK Wrap Up African Swine Fever Exercise

African swine fever is threatening China's massive pork industry. ( MGN )

The United Kingdom and the New South Wales government in Australia are collaborating on a joint, simulated exercise Jan. 29-31 to practice biosecurity measures in the event of an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.

The joint exercise involving Defra, the Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in New South Wales will strengthen the two nations’ joint control strategies for the disease, a UK government release notes.

Although neither country has experienced an outbreak of ASF, both realize the major risk to the pig industries of both Australia and the UK due to trade links with and proximity to affected regions in Asia and Europe.

The release states that robust measures are in place to protect against the deadly virus threatening the global swine industry, including joint operations with Border Force and a policy to seize and destroy all illegal imports of meat and meat products.

However, disease control measures in the event of an outbreak will mean the governments will put in place movement controls for all pig-related businesses, potentially including feed delivery, slaughter houses, pig breeding units and movement of animals to sales.

“The UK has strong links with Australia and scientific cooperation is one of them, so I welcome this initiative to share information and experience, helping us to maintain our high biosecurity standards,” Christine Middlemiss, chief veterinary officer for the UK, said in the release.

The simulated exercise will engage experts in risk assessment, epidemiology, science and disease control policy from both countries. 

In June 2019, ASF was found in meat seized by port authorities in Northern Ireland before entering the country, the first time the ASF virus has been detected in the UK, the release said.

ASF is a disease of pigs only and does not impact humans or pose a risk to food safety. For more on ASF, visit

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