Europes' Strategic Approach to preventing the spread of African Swine Fever

The EC provides regular updates on African Swine Fever (AFS) gathered through the EU Animal Disease Notification System (ADNS) and preventative measures as part of the joint 'strategic approach' to preventing the spread of the disease. This approach and the measures outlined in it will be of particular interest to the UK's pig farming sector.

ASF is a devastating, usually deadly, infectious disease of pigs and wild boar; it represents a serious threat to pig farmers worldwide; it does not affect humans nor other species but there is no treatment or vaccine for ASF. The disease can cause severe health impact on farms, disruption of international trade of animals and animal products, and massive economic losses.

The pig sector is one of the most economically significant farming sectors in the EU.

ASF is very resistant to inactivation even under harsh environmental conditions. In infected areas, control is done through slaughtering of all pigs and destruction of cadavers and litter, cleaning and disinfection, designation of infected zone and control of pig movement, as well as epidemiological investigation (tracing of sources and possible spread of infection).

It can be transmitted either via direct animal contact or via dissemination of contaminated food (e.g. sausages or uncooked meat).  Indirect transmission happens through feeding with garbage containing infected meat, through fomites (premises, vehicles, implements, clothes) or through biologic vectors (soft ticks). The sources of virus are blood, tissues, secretions and excretions of sick and dead animals, carrier animals (especially African wild swine and domestic pigs in enzootic areas) and soft ticks.

Prevention - In free countries can be done through import controls, disposal of waste food from aircraft/ships coming from infected countries.

Control measures

The European Union has laid down prevention and control measures to be applied where African swine fever is suspected or confirmed either in holdings or in wild boars. These include information measures and measures to prevent and eradicate the disease. The overarching piece of legislation providing the tool for the control of African swine fever in the EU is Directive 2002/60/EC.

There is an obligation that Member States to ensure the 'presence or the suspected presence' of ASF is compulsorily and immediately notifiable to the competent authority. There are listed requirements for investigation and containment and the establishment of protection and surveillance zones. Plus detailed requirements for treatment, any reintroduction of pigs, existence of feral pigs and measures to prevent the spread of ASF by vectors.

The map summarising the current regionalisation of infected areas is regularly updated and accessed here

Strategic Approach

Document SANTE/7113/2015 summarises the Strategic approach to the management of African Swine Fever for the EU. The ASF Strategic approach is aimed to the EU countries affected by the disease and to EU countries free from the disease with a risk of introduction. It is intended to prevent the spread of the disease and eventually to eradicate the disease in the affected territories. 

Main Measures for Prevention and Early Detection 

The main measures in Member States free from ASF should be aiming for best prevention practice, early detection and to preparedness for the possible occurrence of ASF in previously free areas.

Particular attention should be given to the management of wild boar populations, pig farming sector and targeted public awareness campaigns.

The main measures should include:

  1. Management of wild boar;
    Applicable for countries with wild boar population and hunting.
  2. Public awareness;

    Specific training should be organised for targeted groups (at least for official and private veterinarians, commercial and non-commercial farmers, hunters, forestry guards) to inform about the risks of ASF and possible prevention, bio-security and control measures.  
    Specific and targeted awareness-raising campaigns should be tailored according to the specific situation in each Member State.
  3. Pig farming sector;

Review and update the ASF contingency plans to ensure they respond the actual needs with:

  • an updated chain of command,
  • an updated biosecurity measures in case of outbreak,
  • pre-approved solutions for culling and disposing of pigs in case of outbreaks (for example, supply of gas, pre-agreed burial places),
  • availability of staff and equipment for emergency operations,
  • relevant communications strategies, collaboration with other public institutions (for ex. in charge of environment, transport, agriculture, customs and border protection and etc.).
  • Ensure minimum requirements are in place for an effective passive surveillance in pig holdings. Review the number of samples tested regularly to assess the effectiveness of the passive surveillance in place and assess the use of tools to enhance reporting rate (e.g. awareness campaigns, incentives).
  • Based on a risk analysis, set up the appropriate frequency of inspection of both commercial and non-commercial holdings in order to promote awareness and biosecurity for pig farms.
  • If necessary, review of national legislation to allow preventive slaughter or preventive killing of pigs should take place.
  1. Other
  • Implement official controls at borders to detect undeclared goods (food) that may be contaminated by ASF and are derived from pigs (pork, and wild boar ham, sausages, bacon, etc.). This activity should be complemented by the use of the Risk Information Form (RIF) that the Commission issued through the EU Customs Risk Management System (CRMS) for the custom services of the EU.
  • Enhanced cooperation and public awareness on ASF risks and control measures with relevant public institutions (for ex. in charge of environment, transport, agriculture, customs and border protection, military trainings and movements) and relevant stakeholders (for ex. farmers, hunters, forestry guards, private veterinarians, professional long-distance drivers) should take place in Member States, where appropriate.
  • Enhanced cooperation on ASF with neighbouring Member States and/or third countries is of paramount importance for the agreement on cross-border measures.



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