African Swine Fever

African Swine Fever is spreading among domestic and wild pigs in Africa, Asia and Europe. There is no cure and it’s almost always fatal. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, if the disease makes its way to the United States, losses from ASF could total as much as eight-billion-dollars for the pork industry in one year alone.

Liz Wagstrom is chief veterinarian of the National Pork Producer’s Council. She says the virus causes a hemorrhagic fever and the pigs bleed out. The very first signs of illness are pigs that are lethargic and go off-feed.

"Then, you’ll see some of those bloody lesions on ears and skin, bloody diarrhea, sometimes bleeding from the nostrils," says Wagstrom. "Or sometimes they just turn white like you see with a pig that has a bleeding ulcer, and they’ll have bled into their bellies."

The disease is spread by close contact such as nose-to-nose, through fecal material, or through ingestion of contaminated products. Even humans can spread it.

"We see people trying to bring meat products in unknowingly from countries that may have the disease, that are forbidden from being brought in," she says. "But you know, every day our airports interdict lots of meat from international travelers. The virus survives nicely in meat. We heard of one research project that showed it surviving for more than a year in dried cured hams."

Learn more about African Swine Fever and its world-wide impacts