African swine fever 


Why in news 

An outbreak of suspected African swine fever (ASF) has killed 276 domestic pigs in Lunglei district of Mizoram.

About the incident:

  • As a part of the preventive measures, the local authorities have restricted the procurement and supply of pigs from and to the affected area.
  • Earlier, around 2,800 pigs have died in Assam since due to the African Swine Fever and the government has advised authorities in Assam to go for the culling of affected pigs.
  • The disease has extremely high potential for transboundary spread, and can hamper the global food security and household income.

What is African swine fever?

  • Viral disease: It is a contagious hemorrhagic viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs.
  • Geographical distribution: The disease was first detected in Kenya in 1909 and is later found in regions of Asia, Europe and Africa.
  • No Vaccine developed:  As of now, there is no approved vaccine against ASF unlike classical swine fever (Hog Cholera) which is caused by a different virus. Although signs of ASF and classical swine fever (CSF) may be similar, the ASF virus is unrelated to the CSF virus.
  • Transmission and spread: African Swine Fever persistently infects its natural hosts, warthogs, bushpigs, and soft ticks, which likely act as a vector, with no disease signs.
    • According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, ASF is caused by a large DNA virus of the Asfarviridae family. African swine fever virus is the only virus with a double-stranded DNA genome known to be transmitted by arthropods.
    • The virus can be spread by ticks and can also be transmitted by direct or indirect contact with infected pigs, faeces or body fluids.
  • Public health risk:  African Swine Fever does not cause disease in humans.
  • Prevention and control:  Classic sanitary measures may be employed including early detection and humane killing of animals (with proper disposal of carcases and waste); thorough cleansing and disinfection and opting strict biosecurity norms.
  • Symptoms of illness:   It includes weight loss, intermittent fever, respiratory signs, chronic skin ulcers and arthritis. Acute forms of ASF are characterised by high fever, anorexia, loss of appetite and haemorrhages in the skin.