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1st September 2021  Editorial by: rapidvirology staff writer

Urgent International Call to Curb Spread of African Swine Fever Virus

(1 Sept. 2021) A number of food and animal health protection agencies worldwide have raised the alarm on the worrying rise and re-emergence of African Swine fever (ASF), a hemorrhagic disease infecting domestic pigs and wild boar. 

The disease is caused by Asfivirus, a DNA virus more commonly known as African swine fever virus (ASFV), and is transmitted by ticks or via the oral route, and can be a lethal or subclinical infection depending on the strain.

There is no vaccine yet for ASFV, however, there is work being done on an oral vaccine in Spain. The virus is resistant to environmental factors and can persist for a long-time in swine carcass, pork meat, and pigs blood. However, there has never been a report of the virus infecting humans.

Although the virus is endemic in some countries, i.e., Sub-saharan Africa and Sardinia (Italy), many other countries have been disease-free for many years. 

However, the virus has re-emerged in The Americas; the last been detected in Haiti in 1982. In July 2021, two outbreaks in the Dominican Republic, which resulted in a total of 790 swine deaths, was reported through the World Animal Health Information System (OIE-WAHIS)

Several countries within the EU are struggling to contain the spread of the virus. Romania, for instance, has seen a reduction in the number of wild boars affected; it has, however, seen a dramatic rise in the outbreaks on commercial pig farms. The country is currently re-drafting its mandatory biosecurity rules. 

ASF continues to plague the Asia and Pacific regions since its first reported incursion in 2018. Its rapid spread has resulted in the culling of 100s of millions of pigs. In 2020 the FAO and OIE set up an initiative to control the spread of ASF in these regions as it threatens to push many of the native wild boar species in these regions to extinction, and have recently issued a joint call with the IUCN SSC for countries in this region to develop stronger policies to mitigate the impacts of ASF.


Due to the acute characteristics of ASF, passive surveillance is the most effective and efficient method for early detection in free areas (European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), 2018a)

Virological testing is therefore required to ensure bio-security measures are implemented quickly. These tests include detection of viral genome by PCR, detection of viral antigens by antigen ELISA or a Direct immunofluorescence test (DIF), and virus detection using virus isolation. 

Here is a list of some of the tests provided by companies to detect ASFV:

Learn about how Poland is currently handling its outbreak in this INDICAL webinar: African Swine Fever - Diagnostics, Management, and Eradication



Date Published: 1st September 2021

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