Thursday, May 16, 2019

USDA Enhances Domestic ASF Surveillance Efforts
How ASF Spreads


African Swine Fever (ASF) has never been reported in North America, but as this devastating disease of pigs continues to spread across Asia and Eastern  Europe, the risks of seeing it arrive on our shores only increase.
Over the past 8 months we've seen ASF spread across all of China, jump to Mongolia and Cambodia, and hit Vietnam particularly hard (see Vietnam MARD: 1.2 Million Pigs Lost To ASF).
At the same time we've watched the (thus far, successful) interdiction efforts of Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Japan.

We've also seen concerns raised by U.S. and Canadian Stakeholders (see ASF in China Prompts Call for Pork Producers to Think Feed Safety and Five Possible Pathways ASF Could Enter Canada) along with our own USDA, which recently released a 28-page ASF response plan.

While none of this means that the importation of ASF to North America is inevitable, it wouldn't be without precedent. Foreign Animal Dieases (FADs) - such as such as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), Virulent Newcastle disease (vND),and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) - are a constant threat.  
Six years ago we saw the arrival of another, far less dangerous porcine virus - PEDV  - which is believed to have originated from China (see mBio: PEDV - Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus – An Emerging Coronavirus).
Today the USDA has announced enhanced testing and surveillance for ASF in American pigs, in hopes of detecting - and stamping out - any infections as early as possible.

USDA Enhances African Swine Fever Surveillance Efforts
Release & Contact Info
Press Release No. 0072.19

Contact: USDA Press

Washington, D.C., May 16, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is furthering its overall African Swine Fever (ASF) preparedness efforts with the implementation of a surveillance plan. As part of this plan, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will work with the swine industry, the states, and veterinary diagnostic laboratories to test for ASF.

ASF is a highly contagious and deadly disease affecting both domestic and feral (wild) pigs. It does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans. ASF has never been detected in the United States.

“African Swine Fever is an area of high interest among the veterinary community and our swine industry, and we continue to take action to prepare for this deadly disease,” said Greg Ibach, Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “While we are confident that our overlapping safeguards will continue to keep ASF out of the United States, an enhanced surveillance program will serve as an early warning system, helping us find any potential disease much more quickly. It will also minimize virus spread and support efforts to restore trade markets and animal movements as quickly as possible should the disease be detected.”

To make this program as effective and efficient as possible, USDA will add ASF testing to our existing classical swine fever surveillance. We will test samples from the same high-risk animals, using the same overall process, but will test for both diseases instead of one. USDA and its partners expect to begin ASF surveillance efforts within weeks, and will implement the full surveillance plan over the course of the spring.

The surveillance effort will test samples from high-risk animals, including sick pig submissions to veterinary diagnostic laboratories; sick or dead pigs at slaughter; and pigs from herds that are at greater risk for disease through such factors as exposure to feral swine or garbage feeding.

In addition, USDA will work with state and federal partners to identify and investigate incidents involving sick or dead feral swine to determine if they should be tested for ASF or other foreign animal diseases.

The surveillance testing of commercial swine herds is an addition to USDA’s overall African swine fever prevention effort, including:

  • Working with officials in Canada and Mexico on a North American coordinated approach to ASF defense, response, and trade maintenance;
  • Working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at ports of entry, paying particular attention to cargo, passengers, and products arriving from China and other ASF affected countries;
  • Increasing detector dog teams with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to sniff out illegal products at key U.S. commercial sea and airports;
  • Collaborating with states, industry and producers to ensure everyone follows strict on-farm biosecurity protocols and best practices (including for garbage feeding in states where that is allowed);
  • Restricting imports of pork and pork products from affected countries;
  • Coordinating closely on response plans with the U.S. pork industry, producers and States to be ready should a detection ever occur in the United States; and
  • Expanding the testing capabilities and testing capacity of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.
Our overall goal remains to keep this deadly disease out of the United States. For more information, visit APHIS’ updated ASF webpage at

No comments: