Spotlight on exotic disease - African swine fever (ASF)


By Linda Searle
District Veterinarian

P: 03 5881 9919 | M: 0427 629 740 | E:

Be a biosecurity warrior tileWhere is ASF found?

ASF is found in Africa, Europe and Asia.

While the disease has never been found in Australia, it is getting closer to our shores.

Since being found in China in 2018, ASF has moved through Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Korea (North and South), Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor Leste and Indonesia.

On 31 March 2020, ASF was confirmed in Papua New Guinea.

What are the symptoms of ASF?

ASF only affects pigs and cannot affect humans. Swine flu is not the same as ASF - they are different diseases.

ASF is a viral disease of pigs that can present in different ways depending on the strain.

Pig deaths may be high without symptoms in the herd.

Common symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Off feed
  • Weakness
  • Convulsions
  • Redness or blue discolouration of the skin, especially around the ears and snout
  • Difficulty walking
  • Diarrhoea
  • Trouble breathing
  • Huddling together
  • Abortion
  • Vomiting
  • Discharge from nose and eyes.

More detailed information can be found in Ausvetplan and the recognising exotic diseases of pigs primefact .

How could ASF get into Australia?

The main risk is meat contaminated with ASF virus illegally entering Australia and being fed to pigs. This is why there are restrictions on what can be brought into the country and what can be fed to pigs.

Another potential risk is the ASF virus contaminating equipment or clothing of a person working on an infected pig farm having contact with Australian pigs. This is why it is important for pig producers to have a farm biosecurity plan to ensure the people entering their property cannot spread diseases.

If ASF infected the feral pig population, they could spread ASF around the country and be a potential risk for commercial pigs.

Who do I call to report ASF?

Notifiable diseases such as ASF can be reported to:

  • Emergency Animal Disease Hotline 1800 675 888 (24 hours / 7 days)
  • Local Land Services 1300 795 299 (during working hours).

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