African Swine Fever: What you need to know

African Swine Fever has affected the pork industry in several countries overseas. Knowing the signs and symptoms can help youth exhibitors keep their swine project healthy.


African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious virus that affects both wild and domestic pigs. It can cause high fever, red, blotchy skin or skin lesions, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, difficulty breathing and even death. Though it is terribly damaging to the swine industry, African Swine Fever is not a risk to human health and pork products are still safe to eat.

Recently, African Swine Fever has been identified in Africa, Russia and the European Union, as well as all provinces in China. Neighboring Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam have also reported African Swine Fever cases in their herds. Though African Swine Fever has not been found in the United States, youth swine exhibitors and pork farmers should be on alert and closely monitor pigs for any symptoms.

The African Swine Fever virus can be spread directly between animals or indirectly on clothing, footwear, vehicles, equipment, wildlife and in feed products. Additionally, insects such as flies and ticks can spread the disease. The incubation period for the disease is five to 21 days after direct contact with infected pigs, but can be less than five days after exposure to ticks. Additional signs may include piling, tiredness and going off feed.

To safeguard against African Swine Fever and other animal diseases, it is important that pork producers and youth exhibitors remain diligent in their herd health observation and biosecurity practices. Protect your project or farm with these biosecurity best practices, consider less pig movement, switch to terminal shows and learn more about the Secure Pork Supply (SPS) plan. If your animals exhibit signs of sickness, work with your veterinarian to determine the cause.

To learn more about biosecurity visit the following Michigan State University Extension resources:

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