Without detailing the country (or countries) of origin, Australia's Department of Agriculture & Water Resources released a press statement today on the interdiction of 6 ASF positive food items (out of 152 tested) coming into their international airports or mail processing centers over the past two weeks.
We've seen similar reports from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan in recent months, all ascribing the tainted products to China. But in fairness, African Swine Fever is also endemic in large parts of Eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa.Last August, in African swine fever (ASF) threatens to spread from China to other Asian countries, the FAO described how easily ASF can cross borders, and even oceans.
A robust virus with a long life
The ASF virus is very hardy and can survive long periods in very cold and very hot weather, and even in dried or cured pork products. The strain detected in China is similar to one that infected pigs in eastern Russia in 2017 but, so far, and while the investigations continue, the China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center has found no conclusive evidence of this latest outbreak's source or linkages.
"The movement of pig products can spread diseases quickly and, as in this case of African Swine Fever, it's likely that the movement of such products, rather than live pigs, has caused the spread of the virus to other parts of China," explained Juan Lubroth, FAO's Chief Veterinarian.
Although its exact origin isn't known, it is likely that a similar scenario led to the introduction - and rapid spread - of ASF across China last summer.
As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, by both trade and travel, the risks of inadvertently spreading agricultural diseases like ASF only increase.This from Australia's Ministry of Agriculture & Water Resources.
Keeping Australia free from African Swine Fever
Thursday, 17 January 2019
In response to the recent spread of African Swine Fever (ASF), the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has increased its border activities. As part of this, a sample of pork products seized at international airports and mail processing centres over a two week period has been tested for African swine fever.
The testing was conducted at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong.
Head of Biosecurity at the department, Lyn O’Connell, said the department has increased our controls and remains committed to keeping Australia’s $60 billion agricultural industries free from the disease.
“The test results show 6 pork products from 152 tested were contaminated with African swine fever virus,” Ms O’Connell said.
“Bringing banned products to Australia puts our environment, industries and animal health at risk.
“The detection of the virus in seized products at the border does not change Australia’s African swine fever free status.
“The test results do however reinforce the importance of continued compliance with Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements.
“African swine fever is not present in Australia. If introduced it would have a significant impact on pig health and production, and contribute to wider economic impacts caused by a loss of access to overseas markets for our pork products.
“Humans are not susceptible to ASF but we all have a role in preventing it, and other exotic animal diseases from arriving in Australia—even if we don’t own or work around farm animals.
“It is crucial that all participants in Australia’s biosecurity system play their part in managing this threat.
“People visiting or returning to Australia from countries where this disease is present need to pay particular attention to biosecurity requirements and not bring banned product with them. If travellers are carrying foods, plant material or animal products in their luggage they must declare them on their incoming passenger card.
“Before making online purchases, check what can and cannot be mailed to Australia. Products such as pork jerky cannot be brought into Australia except under specific import conditions.
“If you are unsure of an item, declare it, or don’t bring it at all.”
Find out more about African swine fever, our biosecurity requirements for incoming passengers and for people who are purchasing goods from overseas at:
- ASF is present in countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and has more recently been detected in other parts of the world such as countries in Eastern Europe, including Russia and the Ukraine. It has most recently been reported in Belgium, China and Mongolia.
- Our biosecurity officers work at airports and mail centres safeguards Australia’s unique environment, $60 billion agricultural industries and plant, animal and human health status from biosecurity risks.
From Australia's ADVICE TO TRAVELLERS webpage.
African swine fever
What is the risk?
African swine fever is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. It is one of the most serious livestock diseases, with high mortality rates in infected pigs. There is no vaccine or cure.
The virus can survive for many weeks, even months, in raw, cured and cooked meats, and on objects such as vehicles, equipment, footwear and clothes.
Why is it a problem for Australia?
An outbreak of African swine fever could devastate Australia’s livestock industries. It could cost the economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
Goods that present a risk
- fresh, dried, and preserved meat products and dairy products
- shoes, boots and clothing used on farms, in rural or wilderness areas, markets, zoos or near susceptible animals
- camping equipment, including backpacks
- mountain bikes and other sporting equipment
- animal skins, hunting trophies, horns or bones that have not been properly cleaned/treated.
You should clean your equipment thoroughly before you travel to Australia. If you bring goods that have soil and manure, they may require treatment.
- do not bring meat products to Australia.
- you must declare on your IPC if you have visited a rural area or been in contact with, or near, farm animals in the past 30 days.
- declare and present anything that represents a possible African swine fever risk to a biosecurity officer for inspection on arrival in Australia. For further information visit African swine fever.