Report Sick or Dead Feral Swine to USDA Wildlife Services
April 9, 2019 —
State and federal agencies should remain vigilant and report sightings of sick or dead feral swine to their local USDA Wildlife Services Biologist (1-866-4-USDA-WS). As a foreign animal disease (FAD), all field response to suspect cases of African swine fever (ASF) in the United States will be led by USDA. As an Affiliate Member of the USDA National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the USGS National Wildlife Health Center is approved to conduct testing for ASF in feral swine should our assistance with national surveillance for this FAD be requested. For more information please contact: Dr. David Blehert. [Source: USGS National Wildlife Health Center 29 March 2019]
African swine fever is a highly contagious and fatal disease of domestic and wild swine. The disease, characterized by pigs developing hemorrhagic lesions on their skin and internal organs, is caused by the African swine fever virus (ASFV), a double-stranded DNA arbovirus. High mortality and prolonged environmental survival of the virus make it difficult to eradicate. African swine fever is endemic to Africa and is historically known to have been introduced twice, in 1957 and 2007, into Europe. In January 2018, ASF was detected near the Ukrainian border. In August of last year, the virus was reported in China and subsequently has been detected in over 25 provinces and municipalities. In Europe, dissemination has mainly been through circulation in wild boar, while in China the domestic swine industry has been implicated. An additional mechanism by which ASF virus can spread is through movement of infected pork products, which are suspected in the transmission of ASFV to wild boar in Belgium. Since October 2018 Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have also detected multiple instances of ASFV in pork products carried in the luggage of passengers arriving from China and Vietnam. The virus has continued to spread in 2019, with 1,235 on-going and 434 new ASF outbreaks reported to OIE in the first two weeks of February.
While ASFV has never been detected in North America, repeated introductions into Europe, more recent introduction and subsequent spread in China and Vietnam, and seizure of over one million pounds of illegally imported Chinese pork products in New Jersey highlight the capacity for intercontinental movement of the virus. The main impact of introduction of ASFV to North America would be to the domestic swine industry. However, given that wild boar in Belgium are thought to have been infected by ingestion of contaminated pork products, and that ASFV-positive food items have been interdicted at border crossings in several other countries, introduction of this virus into the United States, with subsequent exposure of feral swine, is a realistic scenario.
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