One of the most controversial issues today that has gripped the headlines have the potential to present a threat to the current food chain.
While the problem is not potentially harmful to humans, the scourge of the African Swine Fever (ASF) has caused significant damage to the food chain.
It may not be a threat to common pets such as dogs, cats, or birds, it can be for pet pig enthusiasts.
This may not be a common case in any Virginia Beach veterinary clinic, but it does ring some alarm bells as it has already caused a severe outbreak in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
According to the latest report by the World Organization for Animal Health, ASF has claimed hundreds of thousands of pigs have been affected with losses amounting to billions of dollars. The worst-hit with recent outbreaks are Bulgaria, Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Serbia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.
What is ASF?
African swine fever is a viral disease that affects both wild and domestic pigs that have resulted in serious production and economic losses in countries where it has become prevalent, especially food-exporting and food-producing countries.
While there are no cases reported in any Virginia beach vet hospital or anywhere else in the US, but may not be as fortunate in those countries that are affected by the disease.
It is considered a transboundary disease that is spread through domestic or wild live and dead pigs, including processed and non-processed pork products.
Another mode of transmission is through contaminated feed and pork by-products such as clothes and shoes, as well as through non-living objects that have come in contact with contaminated specimens such as equipment, knives, vehicles, containers, etc.
How can it be dangerous?
There are yet no reported cases of ASF in the US, however, there’s a risk of contamination especially among domesticated pigs that are cared for as pets and the swine production industry.
One may not be able to get the vaccine from any Virginia Beach veterinary clinic because until now there is still no approved vaccination formula for it. This makes it necessary to ensure that the spread of this disease does not affect the local pigs.
Symptoms and signs to watch out for
Pigs have varying susceptibility to the virus infection, however, severe cases can cause death.
The symptoms are usually characterized by depression, anorexia, high fever, loss of appetite, skin hemorrhaging, abortion in pregnant sows, diarrhea, vomiting, and cyanosis.
How to prevent it from spreading into ASF-free countries
There must be a strict implementation of import policies and biosecurity measures to track, monitor, and prevent the traffic of pork products from affected countries. These measures should also include the proper disposal of food waste from aircraft, vehicles, or ships coming from affected countries.
General and classic sanitary measures still need to be actively practiced with thorough cleansing and disinfection by the public, while compartmentalization and movement controls, strict biosecurity measures in pig farms, and surveillance and regular epidemiological tests need to be conducted in pig farms.