How to spot African swine fever, what to do if you suspect it and how to stop it spreading.
African swine fever (ASF) affects all pigs, including wild boar.
ASF is not the same disease as swine influenza. It does not affect humans.
African swine fever is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it, you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.
ASF virus is spreading in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. In affected areas the disease has been confirmed in wild boar, as well as on farms, smallholdings and in pet pigs.
Defra and APHA are monitoring the situation to assess the risk to the UK pig population.
How to spot ASF
The signs of ASF are very similar to classical swine fever.
The main clinical signs are:
- loss of appetite
- lack of energy
- sudden death with few signs beforehand
Other signs can include:
- red or dark skin, particularly on the ears and snout
- discharges from the eyes and nose
- laboured breathing and coughing
- abortion in pregnant sows
- unsteady gait
There are several different strains of ASF.
Pigs infected with mild strains may not become ill or show typical clinical signs.
Severe strains of the disease are generally fatal.
Photos of clinical signs
Defra has published photos of the clinical signs of ASF.
How ASF spreads
The disease is highly contagious. It can spread if healthy pigs:
- eat infectious meat or meat products - the virus survives for a long time in cooked or frozen meat
- have contact with infected pigs or their faeces or body fluids
- have contact with anything contaminated with the virus - such as people, clothing, vehicles and other equipment
What to do if you travel to ASF-affected countries
ASF has been confirmed in areas in the following European countries:
ASF is also present in parts of Asia, including:
- China (People’s Republic of)
- Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of)
ASF has also been confirmed in some African countries, including recent outbreaks in South Africa.
For the latest information, please check the World Organisation for Animal Health website.
ASF is not confirmed in all areas of these countries but there’s a risk you’ll bring the disease back to the UK if, while you’re there, you:
- have contact with pigs or wild boar - such as on farms or smallholdings
- visit areas where wild boar may live - such as in forests or woodland
If you do this, you should clean and disinfect clothing, footwear, vehicles and equipment before you:
- return to the UK
- have contact with pigs or visit areas where wild boar live
You should tell the owner you’ve visited an affected area if you work on a farm that keeps pigs or visit someone who keeps a pet pig.
Trade and personal imports
It’s illegal to trade in pork or wild boar meat from ASF-affected areas.
If you have visited ASF-affected areas in Europe, you must not bring any pork or pork products back to the UK.
If you have any food left over during your travel, use a secure bin to dispose of the food waste before entering the UK.
You can bring meat or meat products back from ASF-affected EU countries as personal imports, but you must dispose of it so that pigs and wild boar cannot eat it.
It is illegal to bring personal meat or dairy products into the UK from Asia or Africa. You may face prosecution and a large fine if you import personal meat or dairy products from Asia or Africa when entering the UK.
Prevent ASF spreading
You should practise strict biosecurity to prevent the virus spreading. This includes:
- wearing protective clothing and boots, and providing these for anyone coming onto your premises
- cleaning and disinfecting vehicles and equipment that you’ve used in areas where pigs are
- disposing of leftovers or waste food in secure bins that pigs or wildlife cannot access
A full list of the biosecurity measures you should take is in the guide for disease prevention for livestock and poultry keepers.
Register land you use to keep pigs
You must register your land and your animals if you keep pigs, including pet pigs.
This is so the government can track the location and movement of livestock to prevent and control disease.
Do not feed pigs food waste
It’s illegal to feed catering or domestic food waste to pigs or wild boar. This is because there’s a risk of spreading disease.
Catering waste includes food from vegetarian and vegan kitchens.
Domestic food waste includes:
- kitchen waste or scraps, such as leftovers from meals
- raw, partially or fully cooked meat
- meat that’s been cured, dried, smoked or frozen
- fish, including shellfish
- dog and cat food
You should dispose of leftovers, waste food and any packaging in secure bins so that pigs or wildlife cannot eat it.
You should not take meat or meat products into areas where pigs are kept or where wild boar live.
What you can feed pigs
You should feed your pigs specially formulated commercial pig feed.
You can also feed them fruit and vegetables if these have never:
- been taken into a domestic or commercial kitchen
- come into contact with material of animal origin
Hunting in ASF-affected areas
Hunting is banned is some ASF-affected areas. Check with the hunt organiser before you travel.
If you’re allowed to hunt in an affected area, you should not:
- touch dead or sick wild boar or go into the area around them
- take meat or meat products into areas where wild boar live
- leave any food, especially meat or meat products in open bins
- take dogs with you - ASF virus can be carried in dogs’ fur
You must not feed meat or meat products to wild boar or use them as bait - it’s illegal to do this.
When you return to the UK, you should not bring back trophies or any carcass parts.
You should clean and disinfect clothing, footwear, vehicles and equipment before you return to the UK.
Controlling ASF if it’s suspected or confirmed
If the disease is confirmed, the African swine fever disease control strategy for Great Britain will be put in place to control the outbreak.