African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease that can impact domestic and wild pigs. It is not a human pathogen, but ASF can be devastating to the health of swine and cause significant economic and production losses to farmers and pork processors1. In 2019, an increase in ASF outbreaks was reported in several African, Asian and European countries. The ASF virus is a large, enveloped, DNA virus. The genus is Asfivirus, a member of the Asfarviridae family.
Disease severity can vary and is dependent on the virulence, or severity, of the ASF virus strain. The range of virulence spans low, moderately and highly virulent strains. These different strains and their virulence can affect the health of pigs in several ways2:
There are multiple modes of infection transmission:
There is no approved vaccine against ASF, unlike classical swine fever (hog cholera) which is caused by a different virus1. The main preventive approaches are awareness, education and implementation of biosecurity principles, including segregation, control, cleaning and disinfection, and pest management.
During outbreaks, control of ASF can be difficult and must be adapted to the specific epidemiological situation. Key steps in controlling and limiting outbreaks of ASF are1,3:
Prevention is the primary focus in countries or regions that are free of disease. Key measures include1,3:
ASF can be inactivated through heat - 56°C (133°F)/70 minutes or 60°C (140°F)/20 minutes or higher temperatures1. Many different chemistries at critical concentrations and exposure times are known to kill ASF, including quaternary ammonium compounds, peracetic acid, bleach, citric acid and some iodine compounds3,4,5. Only products with country or region regulatory approval against ASF or a surrogate can be used. For example, for a virucidal claim in Europe, EN 14675 is the relevant European standard. The EN standard recognizes Bovine enterovirus Type 1 as the surrogate virus and can be applied to ASF virus inactivation.
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