In an announcement made moments ago, the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development confirmed a new outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) on a farm in Gauteng.
According to Reggie Ngcobo, spokesperson for the department, the farm has been placed under quarantine and the provincial veterinary services instituted forward and back-tracing investigations to identify any properties that could have had direct or indirect contact with the affected farm.
“Farms in Gauteng, North West and Free State Provinces have been placed under precautionary quarantine as a result of this. The ASF negative status of these farms will be confirmed before the precautionary quarantine can be lifted,” Ngcobo said.
As it stands, the source of the infection on the positive farm has not yet been identified. It is, however believed that the infection was already on the farm since mid-December.
Rural areas neglected
In a recent interview with Food For Mzansi, Dr Peter Evans who is the head of consumer assurance at the South Africa Pork Producers Organisation (Sappo), said the government needed to focus more on the more informal pig operations in rural areas to curb the spread of African swine fever. According to him, it is in these areas where pigs are sold for survival that double up as disease outbreak hotspots.
“The training, interventions and awareness need to be appropriate for the level of farming that is being done. Most African swine fever outbreaks are occurring in less formal farming situations,” he said.
“When it comes to commercial farming, I do not see the government getting involved because they could use private consultants or take their farm managers to train. But in communities where the social-economic conditions are not good, that is where government needs to step in.”
Pig owners, be extra vigilant
The department of agriculture, land reform and rural development confirms that since April 2019, the country has recorded a staggering 101 ASF outbreaks. Most were in the Western Cape and Gauteng with 11 and 41 outbreaks, respectively.
According to the department, the spread of the disease seems to have slowed down, with fewer new properties becoming infected since October 2022.
“Control measures are based on quarantine and movement controls, with awareness drives to highlight essential biosecurity measures to enable pig owners to prevent infection of their pigs. This outbreak of ASF on a farm with good biosecurity measures in place again illustrates that the virus is highly contagious,” Ngcobo said.
The department has urged pig farmers and pig keepers to only buy pigs directly from known healthy herds, and to prevent contact between their pigs and other pigs or wildlife.
Hygiene remains crucial
“Visitors should be discouraged from coming into the area where pigs are being kept. Anyone who has contact with pigs should wash their hands before and after handling the pigs; and before moving to other farms, one should ensure that they have thoroughly showered and to only use clean clothes, shoes and equipment,” the department said.
ASF is a controlled disease in terms of the Animal Diseases Act, 1984 (Act 35 of 1984), which means that all cases or suspicion of ASF must be reported to the state veterinary services.
Pig owners are encouraged to be extra vigilant and to report any increased pig deaths or unusual symptoms to the local state veterinary office. As per Section 11 of the Animal Diseases Act, all pig owners are responsible to prevent the spread of disease from their animals or land to other properties.
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