African swine fever: Western Cape bans sale of live pigs

Most of the 101 African swine fever outbreaks recorded since April 2019 were in the Western Cape and Gauteng. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Most of the 101 African swine fever outbreaks recorded since April 2019 were in the Western Cape and Gauteng. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

The Western Cape department of agriculture this evening announced that a ban had been placed on the sale and movement of live pigs from Mfuleni to limit the spread of African swine fever (ASF).

This follows after the highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease was identified on at least two smallholder farms in Mfuleni, a suburb of Blue Downs which is also in close proximity to Khayelitsha.

Dr Ivan Meyer, the Western Cape minister of agriculture. Photo: Supplied

According to the province’s minister of agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, ASF was confirmed by the post-mortem samples submitted to the ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute.

This finding follows the intensive investigation conducted by the veterinary services of the provincial agriculture department to determine the cause of pigs dying in the area over the last two weeks.

Meyer also confirmed that there is no danger of the disease infecting humans.

“I urge pig farmers to ensure they only purchase pigs from farms with a proven clean health history. 

“Farmers must practise good hygiene management practices on their farms to minimise the risk of disease introduction or spread of the disease through good biosecurity measures.” 

How is the virus spread?

According to Dr Gininda Msiza, head of veterinary services in the Western Cape, the virus can be spread via any part of a raw pig carcass.  

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Msiza said, “This is the first time ASF has been diagnosed in the Western Cape following recent outbreaks in the Free State, Eastern Cape and Gauteng. Therefore, any dead pigs must be disposed of effectively, and no pig waste should be fed to other pigs.”

Dr Gininda Msiza, head of veterinary services with the Western Cape department of agriculture’s veterinary services. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Meyer added that a survey to determine the extent of the disease’s spread in Mfuleni and the immediate surrounding area had already been initiated. “It will include the collection of blood samples from selected sick pigs from suspect farms within the affected area.”

“It is, however, important to determine the origin of the causative virus.  We have therefore submitted samples to ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute to determine the genotype and hence maybe the source of the infection,” said Msiza.

The minister thanked affected farmers for minimising the possible negative impact on trade and sensitising pig farmers in other Western Cape areas. He believes this will help to limit the spread of disease.

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