Biosecurity promoted as hog disease hits China

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - A deadly hog disease is spreading across China, causing serious concern among world hog producers. There are more than 13 cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China reported in the last month.

Photo: Montgomery County Planning Commission / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Iowa Department of Agriculture wants producers to maintain strict biosecurity and keep on the lookout for clinical signs of the disease. Signs of ASF can be variable but often includes high fever, decreased appetite, and weakness, accompanied by lesions on the skin.

Extension Veterinarian at Iowa State University Chris Rademacher says, "It's an extremely pathogenic viral disease although there are some variations, some are milder than others, but they can affect affect animals of all ages and can, yes, create situations where the mortality can be extremely high."

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig released a statement saying, “While this virus poses no threat to human health or any food safety concern, it could have a devastating economic impact if it would be found in the U.S."

ASF is easily spread between pigs by direct contact or contaminated objects. It can survive on shoes, clothing, vehicles, and it also gets through the curing process, so uncooked or undercooked meat fed back to hogs can cause infection.

More specifically, hog feed is a top biosecurity focus for Rademacher, "There certainly is the potential for contamination of feed ingredients, and I think that's really where the biggest concern and where there's been a lot of attention and focus around what sort of things can we mitigate from a feed ingredient standpoint because we tend to get a lot of our vitamins from Chinese suppliers."

In addition to China, the disease has been detected in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Africa.

There are no vaccines or treatments that exist, infected hog herds are quarantined and depopulated.

For farmers interested in biosecurity, Pork Checkoff has released information at www.pork.org talking about reducing viral transmission through hog feed. The Iowa Department of Agriculture also asks producers to get or update premises identification numbers for each location hogs are held.