African swine fever: how to spot and report the disease

How to spot African swine fever, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent its spread.

African swine fever affects pigs.

It doesn’t affect humans.

There has never been an outbreak of African swine fever in Great Britain.

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.

African swine fever is not the same disease as classical swine fever or swine influenza.

Current situation

If you keep pigs, you must keep a close watch for, and report, any signs of African swine fever in your animals.

You should never feed catering waste, kitchen scraps or meat products to pigs.

The disease is spreading in Europe. It has been confirmed in wild boar and feral pigs as well as in commercial and backyard pigs in Central and Eastern Europe. We continue to monitor the situation. You can read our assessments of the risk.

How to spot African swine fever

The signs of African swine fever are very similar to classical swine fever.

The main clinical signs are:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • lack of energy
  • sudden death with few signs beforehand

Other signs can include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • red or dark skin, particularly on the ears and snout
  • discharges from the eyes and nose
  • laboured breathing and coughing
  • abortions
  • weakness
  • unsteady gait

There are several different strains of African swine fever.

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

We’ve published some photos of clinical signs of disease of African swine fever on Flickr.

How African swine fever is spread

The disease is highly contagious. It can spread by:

  • pigs eating infectious meat or meat products
  • contact with infected pigs or their faeces or body fluids
  • contact with anything contaminated with the virus including:
    • people and their clothing
    • vehicles and other equipment

Preventing and controlling African swine fever

You can help prevent the disease by practising strict biosecurity on your premises.

You should never feed catering waste, kitchen scraps or meat products to pigs. You can be prosecuted if you do. You should feed your pigs with specially formulated commercial pig feed.

If you report suspicion of African swine fever, APHA vets will investigate.

If African swine fever is confirmed, it will be controlled in line with the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases and the African swine fever disease control strategy for Great Britain.

Further information on prevention and control

Controls to prevent disease

What happens when a notifiable disease is suspected or confirmed

Legislation relating to African swine fever

The Diseases of Swine Regulations 2014 implement EU Directive 2002/60/EC for the control of African swine fever.

Published 26 August 2014
Last updated 18 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Contact details to report a notifiable disease updated.
  2. Added information on the current situation in Europe.
  3. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
  4. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
  5. First published.