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ASF spread may be waning in South Africa

The South African government stated recently that the spread of African swine fever in pigs has been slowing down.

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miljko | iStockPhoto.com

Over the past three months, new outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) have been recorded in 5 provinces of South Africa.

With fewer South African pig herds becoming infected with ASF over the past three months, the authorities report that the spread of the disease is slowing down. This is according to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, and reported by the government’s SA News at the end of January.

Despite this optimism, ASF virus had recently been detected at a commercial farm in Gauteng province. It is understood that the infection may already have been on the farm in mid-December, although the source of the virus is unknown.

Once the outbreak was confirmed, the provincial veterinary service began work to track and trace pig movements in order to identify other potentially infected premises. At the same time, quarantine was imposed immediately on farms in North West and Free State, as well as across Gauteng province.

The department has urged the nation’s pig keepers only to buy their animals from healthy herds, and to maintain strict biosecurity, including keeping their animals away from wildlife.

South Africa’s latest ASF outbreaks

Over the past three months, South Africa’s veterinary authority has officially registered a total of 19 new ASF outbreaks in pigs. Based on notifications to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), these directly impacted around 14,500 domestic pigs though mortality or culling.

Starting between early July last year and the first week of February, the outbreaks occurred in five provinces — Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga and North West.

Among these outbreaks, the only large commercial farm involved was in Gauteng, according to the WOAH reports.

Located near Randfontein in the municipality of West Rand, there were 8,628 pigs at the premises in mid-January, 238 of which died. Fate of the remaining animals is not reported.

Other recently reported outbreaks in South Africa were confirmed on small farms or in communal village herds.

Outbreaks first started in previously ASF-free areas of South Africa in 2019, according to the agriculture department.

Since then, a total of 211 of the country’s pig herds have been affected by the disease, based on WOAH notifications. Directly impacted have been more than 86,000 domestic swine in the five provinces above, as well as in Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

South Africa is the only African country to have reported ASF outbreaks over the past three months.

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

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