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CVO update
African swine fever: an increasing risk to UK pigs

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By Christine Middlemiss, UK chief veterinary officer

Vets play a key role in keeping our country free of exotic notifiable diseases. This is crucial not only for animal health and welfare reasons, but also to prevent devastating impacts on farm businesses and trade.

African swine fever (ASF) presents an important and increasing risk to pigs in the UK. In an outbreak, heightened disease control measures and a potential ban on pork exports could have a financial impact on the pig industry. The arrival of ASF would also affect the modest export market of our native rare breed pigs; and those with small populations and genetic pools could be heavily compromised if they had to be culled for disease control purposes.

We must all play our part in raising awareness with all pig owners of this significant risk

We must all play our part in raising awareness with all pig owners of this significant risk, promoting good biosecurity, and ensuring early detection and effective control, if the worst happens.

ASF was first detected in EU Member States in 2014. Since then, the disease has been spreading in wild boar in parts of eastern and central Europe with outbreaks also occurring in domestic pigs, especially in pigs in small herds. Many pigs have died from the disease, and many thousands more have been culled to try to control its spread. The outbreak has been particularly bad in Romania where there have been over 1000 outbreaks in domestic pigs. There is no …

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