Hello again and welcome back.
A month or two go we spoke about the detection of the fall armyworm and now only a short time later news has broken that the outbreak of African swine fever is now in a number of different countries right around the world.
African swine fever is defined by Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as a contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs. It was self-established in Asia and parts of Europe and now continues to spread rapidly. The scary thing is that there is no vaccine and it kills roughly 80% of pigs that it infects.
Pig around the world are dropping like flies. It’s a horrible sight but something we all need to take note of. It has killed large numbers in Papua New Guinea with their Agriculture and Livestock Minister reporting cases where the disease has killed swine less than a week after infecting them.
The good news is that the swine fever has not reached Australian shores but that’s not to say it won’t, eventually. The disease is a significant biosecurity threat to our country and the agriculture industry. Not only would it ruin our trade and the economy, but it would devastate Australia pig production and overall health.
The Australian Government is strengthening our biosecurity measures by raining in on permitted and unpermitted products that are allowed into the country. They’ve increased border activities, introduced penalties for non-compliance and the testing of pork products at all airports and mail centres. The list goes on.
It is a balancing act though as a number of local pig farmers call for even tighter biosecurity measures to prevent the African swine fever reaching Australia. NSW Farmers Pork Committee President Ean Pollard told the Young Witness newspaper more has to be done. “It is critical that African swine fever stays out of Australia, especially at this crucial time, when Australia is already fighting a human health crisis and we need to maintain fresh food supplies,” Mr Pollard said.
The main thing you can do as a pig or livestock owner is ensure you are keeping your animals healthy and feeding them food that is safe. Do not feed your pigs meat, any other mammalian food that contains mat or food that has been in contact with meat. So the bottom line is, no meat or no swill feeding as it is more commonly known as.
Everyone needs to work together to avoid the spread of this disease. Be mindful of the potential risk of spreading the disease through livestock or passing it to surrounding livestock operations when entering a property. You also need to make sure you are practicing good biosecurity practices which include enforcing entry controls and protocols, hygiene requirements and visitor logs.
World leading scientists have been working towards finding a vaccine since the outbreak of the African swine fever in 2018, and some reports say that either China or the U.S. are almost on the money. One Chinese Academy states the live vaccine has shown safe and effective results, created from a series of gene-deleted viruses. However, nothing has been confirmed by the authorities.
It’s not the greatest timing with everything else going on in the world at the moment as COVID-19 continues to be at the front of everyone’s minds but the similarities between the Coronaviris outbreak and the African swine fever are worth noting. While the science behind them can’t be compared, the reaction of sudden panic and the absence of a vaccine show how significant both diseases truly are. It really puts things into perspective.
For more information head to the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s website, or simply click on this link to be directed to the ‘National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Pork Production’ https://www.farmbiosecurity.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/National-Farm-Biosecurity-Manual-for-Pork-Production-2019.pdf
To make a report or for any further information contact the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.