Until scientists develop a vaccine for African Swine Fever, the best way to deal with the disease is by prevention, scientists say.
Therefore, all known contact with countries that have it in their herds must be handled with care. And the best prevention is knowledge of the disease and how it can spread.
To that end, Dr. James Lowe of Production Animal Consultation and Dr. Ben Blair of the University of Illinois teamed up for an article in Protein Producers magazine outlining what is known and suspected about this disease.
Until 2007, the disease was confined to sub-Saharan Africa where it was endemic in wild pigs in about 20 countries. The disease was introduced into Georgia, which led to its spread into Europe and Asia.
ASF is very contagious but not as contagious as its close relative Classical Swine Fever (Hog Cholera) or Foot and Mouth Disease, which many list as the most contagious disease on the planet. However, ASF is fatal to pigs, and the economic loss can be devastating.
There also is no known cure or vaccine.
The thing that makes ASF such a problem to control is its viability outside the body and the large number of ways it can be transmitted. It is transmitted directly by contact with secretions or excretions of infected pigs and indirectly through fomites (vehicles, feed and equipment), tick exposure, inhalation, environmental contamination or consumption of infected pork.
Some think mosquitoes or biting flies can be vectors as well, but this still is being researched.
ASF can survive in feces for up to 11 days and in frozen carcasses for several years. One study found that ASF can persist in feed ingredients like soybean meal, choline, cat food, dog food (moist and dry), pork sausage casings and complete feed.
Given its ability to survive in pet food and animal feed is one reason some think it is only a matter of time before ASF makes its way across the Pacific to US shores and why continued research is vital to the safety of domestic herds.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Common disinfectants are ineffective against ASF, although some specialized formulations have been shown to be effective. Infected meat can be sterilized by heating it to 158 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
Spain actually eliminated ASF from its borders via a multi-pronged approach that incorporated the direct and active participation of farmers, which took adequate compensation for any losses. Some of the things that were done included the elimination of outbreaks, ID, slaughter of infected animals and depopulation of entire herds.
Spain also improved animal holding enclosures to prevent the spread of the disease and a network of mobile, veterinary field teams in charge of sanitary control of buildings. Officials also imposed strict control of animal movement and the ID of those moved for fattening or breeding.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Cash cattle trade last week ranged from $106 per cwt on a live basis early up to $108 late in the week, up $1 to $3 from the previous week. Dressed-basis trade was at mostly $170, up $5.
The USDA choice cutout Monday was down $0.87 per cwt at $211.09, while select was off $1.01 at $185.91. The choice/select spread widened to $25.18 from $25.04 with 87 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
No cattle were posted Monday for delivery against the Oct contract.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Friday was $144.43 per cwt, up $0.84 from the previous day. This compares with Monday’s Oct contract settlement of $141.70, down $0.27.