Update: African swine fever spreads into Southeast Asia

African swine fever (ASF), a viral and devastating disease to pigs but harmless to humans, has crossed borders into additional countries in Southeast Asia.

Last February, public health authorities reported multiple ASF cases spreading from China into Vietnam, forcing pork producers to make the call on millions of animals.

Later in April, the virus made its way to Cambodia, causing massive losses for the husbandry sector as well.

Now, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), ASF recently hit seven different villages located in the southern region of Laos, leaving hundreds of pigs dead.

Reports by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate that about 3.7 million pigs have been culled in Asia so far; Vietnam has the highest number with 2.6 million pigs.

These spreading patterns are making countries like Thailand fear it might be the next target due to its proximity to the already affected areas and the country’s massive pig industry.

“As Asia’s second-largest pork producer, Thailand is the perfect target for ASF,” Neogen’s Anna McGeehan said. “It’s totally understandable that a country whose pig industry is worth $3 billion U.S. annually starts taking serious precautions to stop this threatening disease at any cost.”

As Neogen’s pig expert, McGeehan reminds those in the swine industry of the important practices to put in place to help stop the spread of ASF.

“Don’t forget the ASF virus can remain in the environment for long periods of time, so follow or update your biosecurity plan around this factor,” McGeehan stated.  “This is a long-term commitment, not a short-term fix. Ensuring that all vectors for this virus, such as hard surfaces, trucks, trailers, handling equipment, water, feed, and even human and animal movements are effectively analyzed and controlled will be crucial to protecting our herds and our livelihoods.”

A pig’s consumption of contaminated feed and direct contact with infected animals are the two most common ways to spread a virus, so avoid this at all cost.

“Sanitation is a key element in these situations, so adequate disposal of infected pigs, dead animals, or contaminated feed is crucial to avoid any spreads,” McGeehan said.

She added that humans are a critical factor when it comes to the spread of disease.

“Humans can spread ASF without even knowing, so it is important that biosecurity plans also focus on sterilizing contaminated clothing, vehicles, food, or equipment to stop any virus spreading,” McGeehan said.

Neogen offers products that can play an essential role in any biosecurity program to keep animals and people safe, including disinfectants, cleaners, personal protective equipment and more.

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