African Swine Fever (ASF) is a viral disease occurring in pigs and wild boars that is highly contagious and deadly. It is a pernicious disease that is endemic in China and sub-Saharan Africa.
The European continent is not immune to this disease, and there is an increasing concern due to frequent outbreaks in domestic pigs. In the year to March 2022, cases in domestic pigs in Europe have been reported in Bulgaria, Germany, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and the Ukraine.
This follows reports of ASF being spread amongst pigs and wild boar in Germany in 2020.
While, in January 2022, there was an outbreak of the disease in wild boar in Northern Italy.
There has also been the first confirmed outbreak of ASF in North Macedonia, close to the Bulgarian border, which reinforces worries of the disease continuing to spread across Europe.
In May 2022, a case of ASF has also been confirmed in domestic pigs in a new region of Germany, near Forchheim – very close to the border with France.
These examples show how ASF can spread long distances to infect previously unaffected regions – often via human-mediated routes – similar to Belgium in 2018, and more recently in Italy.
There are no vaccines or cures for ASF, so an outbreak has severe socio-economic consequences. There was a devastating outbreak of the disease in China in 2018 that was thought by some to be the largest animal disease outbreak in history. The disease spread amongst pigs in all 33 of China’s regions. This was an acute economic blow for China, as pork is the national meat of choice and a key source of protein.
With a 100% fatality rate in the pigs it affected, consequences in China included reduced domestic supply, increased imports, higher pork prices and subsequent inflation. With China producing half of the world’s pigs, the impact of this historic outbreak also rippled around the globe. In 2019, post the outbreak, official data estimated that China’s 400 million pigs had been reduced by a quarter, due to death by disease and culling. An outbreak of ASF in Europe on this kind of scale would be a significant blow for the meat trade and the economies of the countries affected.
With cases continuing to increase, and with no cure in sight, it is essential to try to combat this disease as efficiently as possible before it spreads further. Particularly as the use of illegal vaccines has been driving new strains and symptoms. First detected over 100 years ago, the disease is very complex, with 22 known types of ASF making it a very complicated disease to combat. This means a vaccine that successfully eradicates the disease could still be a long way off, and so biosecurity becomes even more essential in the fight to stop it spreading.
With no effective vaccine currently available, implementing strict biosecurity is a key strategy in fighting outbreaks. In China, steps have been taken to improve biosecurity and combat the disease through disinfectant dispensers. These methods also need to become widely used in Europe to prevent further outbreaks.
Biosecurity is the number one way to prevent and control the spread of ASF. There are two routine day-to-day measures that can be implemented immediately in environments where pigs are bred for meat. All staff on farms should be follow a strict programme of hand washing – using soap and running water – and equipment sanitisation before, and after, contact with pigs. These strict hygiene rules should also be extended to visitors.
Avoiding close contact with animals that fall ill is also advisable. If staff do need to come into contact with infected animals, then they should wear protective clothing, including gloves and masks. As well as hygiene rules, there are other ways to prevent the spread of the disease. Food for pigs should not be left exposed to wild species that could contaminate it. Pig meat should also not be brought onto farms where there are live herds.
The import of pork meat is also a real concern. ASF is particularly pernicious as it survives in frozen pork products for years. Curing or smoking do not kill the virus. Those importing meat should check infected regions before importing goods that could be contaminated. The risks of bringing back infected meat from other countries into Europe needs to be taken into account.
ASF can survive on surfaces which is particularly worrying in farms, where it can remain on equipment that hasn’t been properly cleaned. The good news is that using the right concentration of disinfectant on surfaces can inactivate the virus. The use of particular chemicals are recommended. These are hydrogen peroxide, aldehydes, and chlorine. The use of these chemicals is becoming more popular throughout the pig industry, but to be truly effective, it requires the correct equipment to dispense the chemicals, with the correct compatibility.
Clean water is also key in combating the virus. A reliable dispenser can help de-scale water lines and kill algae by diluting chemicals to keep them clear and reduce the amount of cleaning needed. This equipment can also deliver medication, vitamins, electrolytes, probiotics, organic acids and vaccines to animals through drinking water systems. Dispensers can enhance productivity and allow labour savings, through accurate dosing with each use.
There are many different types of dispensers available to use on farms, including teat dip cup and bucket cleaning, that make it easy and cost-effective to dilute chemicals at the push of a button. A compatible pump is also essential. Water-driven pumps (WDPs) are great for vaccinating and medicating animals, treating water, cleaning water lines and administering the proper nutrients and supplements to pigs.
The use of a proper dispenser or pump helps ensure animal health, supports cleanliness and protects water lines and equipment through proper dilution. This type of biosecurity equipment will become essential in Europe’s fight to prevent further outbreaks of ASF.
Hydro Systems Europe is a world leader in delivering chemical dispensing and dosing solutions, with a range of dispensers to meet every need. AquaBlend Xtreme and Hydro Xtreme are two solutions that satisfy a variety of biosecurity needs, and help in the fight against ASF.
Hydro Systems’ AquaBlend Xtreme is a Water-driven pump compatible with organic acids and other HACs used to treat or medicate water lines. The unit features enhanced longevity, reliability, tool-free maintenance and a large injection range.
Hydro Xtreme, an electric diaphragm pump, offers several advantages compared to peristaltic pumps. These include longer life, more precise chemical dilution and no need for costly squeeze tubes or additional controllers for water meters and pump circuits.
With these methods and effective dispensers in place, there is a real chance that Europe will not see the kind of devastating outbreak of the disease that has occurred in China.
To find out more about Hydro System’s range of chemical dispensers for effective biosecurity, including the AquaBlend Xtreme and the Hydro Xtreme visit https://hydrosystemseurope.com/
Call 1-800-543-7184 Monday-Friday 8am - 5pm EST