ASF remains a challenge to South African pig farmers

Within Africa, only South Africa’s veterinary agency has officially recorded further outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF).

Pig On Pig Farm
Braendan Yong |

As a leading exporter of animal products in the region, African swine fever (ASF) and notifiable diseases in other farmed livestock are increasing pressure on South Africa’s farmers.

Recent spread of livestock diseases in the country indicate weak spots exist in biosecurity practices on its  farms, reported The Conversation recently. These weaknesses have been highlighted by South African agribusinesses for some time, according to the report, and are adding to the sector’s mounting pressures.

As well as ASF, the article refers to recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle, and highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry.

While these diseases are also affecting other countries and regions of the world, the article highlights that few other states are suffering from the simultaneous presence of these infections. They are particularly damaging for a country like South Africa, which have previously exported substantial volumes of animal products to other African nations.

ASF remains a challenge to the South African pig industry, according to the report. 

Further ASF cases in domestic pigs

Based on official notifications to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), the four current ASF outbreak series in South Africa have been ongoing since 2019.

Covered in the most recent WOAH reports have been 14 outbreaks in five different regions of the country.

In Eastern Cape, the six latest outbreaks to be reported began between January 1 and October 17, 2023. Affected were two farms — one of which had 3,000 pigs — while the others were smaller backyard and village herds.

They brought to 43 the number of outbreaks in this series, which began in April 2020, and has directly impacted around 27,400 domestic animals.

Just one further outbreak has been reported to WOAH in a second ASF series. It occurred at a farm in KwaZulu-Natal. Around 200 of an unspecified number of pigs died there at the end of September.

After an eight-month hiatus, ASF virus was detected again in KwaZulu-Natal in June 2023. Since then, two outbreaks have been confirmed in the province, both on farms.

Latest ASF outbreaks reported to WOAH in the South Africa’s third disease series bring the total to 177. Directly impacted have been more than 70,400 pigs in several administrative regions.

Four of the seven latest premises to be affected were in Free State, two in Gauteng, and a first outbreak in this series in Northern Cape. One of the Gauteng outbreaks was on a farm with 350 pigs, while the others affected village herds. All began during a two-month period up to mid-November. 

ASF situation stable in Tanzania

The only other state in the region that has reported on the ASF situation to WOAH over the past two months is Tanzania.

In this East African state, the veterinary authority described the ASF situation as “stable.”

Since the disease wave began in early 2021, three outbreaks have been confirmed to WOAH. These affected two village herds and one backyard in two adjacent northern regions. The most recent cases occurred in February of that year.

In its latest update on the global ASF situation (November 25 to December 14), WOAH puts the number of confirmed ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs across Africa since January 2021 at 250. Directly impacted have been approximately 35,300 animals. No cases have been recorded over this period in African wild pigs.

View our continuing coverage of the global African swine fever situation.

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