UK Expert Says African Swine Fever is a Battle Worth Waging

( National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff )

Source: National Pork Board

While no one needs to remind the U.S. pork industry of the severe economic damage that could occur if/when a foreign animal disease strikes, it’s just as important to take some comfort in knowing that strict biosecurity and sanitation methods can do a good job of protecting farms when correctly implemented.

“ASF is a very stoppable disease,” says Tony Pearson, a global technical consultant for biosecurity and hygiene with Antec International in the United Kingdom. “We’ve seen what can be done to protect commercial herds in places such as Poland that have ASF in many wild pigs. The country has had one domestic herd break with ASF in the last four years, and that was very recently. Meanwhile, the disease has been in the wild herd for many years.”

Beyond strict control of human traffic, Pearson advises producers to always consider potential disease-carrying vectors such as rodents, wild pigs and even insects when it comes to putting together an ASF biosecurity plan with your veterinarian.

“While global movement of people is probably the biggest risk for the further spread of ASF, we all need to keep remaining vigilant at the farm level and doing all that we can to stop this costly disease from doing more harm,” Pearson says.

On a practical note, Pearson stresses the need for farmers to realize that in order for biosecurity steps such as disinfection to really work, the area must be thoroughly cleaned first.

“Simple things like using hot water on flooring and removing all organic matter and the bio-film that it creates will make a huge difference,” he says. “And with a tough virus like ASF, it’s critical to do things right or you’re simply not going to truly disinfect the barns and equipment for meaningful risk mitigation.”