African swine fever (ASF) is an infectious viral disease in domestic pigs and other pig-like animals. In 2018 the virus made a big leap, infecting wild boars in Belgium.
The disease can result in up to 100% fatalities in a population.
Domestic pigs or wild boar that survive the acute phase may apparently recover and still carry the virus for several months. The clinical symptoms can look very much like those of classical swine fever. There is no vaccine available for African swine fever.
Spread of the virus
African swine fever arrived in Georgia from Africa in 2007. From there the virus spread to Russia and other countries, reaching the European Union in 2014. In September 2018 the virus made a big leap, ultimately infecting hundreds of wild boar in Belgium.
Besides outbreaks in Asia, there are especially many outbreaks in Poland and Romania. In September 2020 the virus was discovered in Germany for the first time.
In 2019 there were 8,315 outbreaks in Europe among wild boar and domestic pigs (source: European Commission).
Routes of infection
Pigs and wild boar can become infected through different routes. Bringing in contaminated food (meat, sausage etc.) is one of the routes humans have a large influence on. Being alert and acting in an aware and responsible way on the part of pig farmers, hunters and individuals are extremely important in preventing the disease from spreading.
Safeguarding the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, safeguarding against and combating African swine fever is a task carried out by the government. Should African swine fever be introduced, the Netherlands is ready to combat an outbreak rapidly.
Role of Wageningen University & Research
Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) contributes to controlling ASF by rapidly testing samples for the presence of the virus. We coordinate the monitoring of wild boars for ASF. In addition, we carry out research for maintaining and expanding expertise, as well as advise the government and other organisations on ASF. Besides this, WBVR can test if disinfectants are able to kill African swine fever virus.
- FAO Animal Health Manual - Recognizing African swine fever - A field manual. Elaborate background information.
- OIE technical disease card African swine fever, 2013 - Elaborate information on the different aspects of the disease.
- OIE Disease information - Different options to look at outbreaks or the presence of diseases in countries.
- Map with the spread of African swine fever from 2007 - June 2019
- DEFRA Preliminary outbreak assessments - Risk analysis by the British government of outbreaks of animal diseases abroad.
- African swine fever - European Reference Laboratory - General information about African swine fever.
- Promed - For fast notifications of animal diseases, with the latest news on animal diseases worldwide.
- Animal Health regulatory committee presentations - Presentations of EU-countries on the current situation of animal diseases.
- Video: How to stay one step ahead of African swine fever (EFSA)
- Video: Prevention of African swine fever in Europe (European Commission)