Watch out for the spread of African swine fever!

Pig farmers in Northern Ireland have been made aware of the risk of African swine fever following a confirmed case in a wild boar in northern Italy.

The province’s agriculture minister, Edwin Poots, pointed out this week that one potential route of transmission is through contaminated pork products – the virus survives in pork and, although it has no consequence for humans, has already been implicated in the spread of the disease to fed pigs. waste.

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“To date, there have never been any cases of ASF in the UK or Ireland and although there is no risk to human health with the disease, it is easily transmitted in products to pork base and is potentially lethal to pigs.

“If the disease were to reach our shores, it could have a devastating effect on export markets and would also require the humane slaughter of pigs on infected premises to prevent further spread. I emphasize the need to maintain a high level of biosecurity, make sure your pigs have no access to any kitchen waste, only feed your pigs a purchased pork ration and stay alert for signs of disease for a early detection of the disease.

Mr Poots said everyone has a role to play in protecting NI from the introduction of animal or plant diseases through the import of animal products or plant materials, under the strict rules governing such imports. , which can be viewed at:

In addition, good biosecurity practices, including strict hygiene measures, are essential to prevent disease – people should not bring meat or meat products into areas where pigs are raised and should not should eat only in designated areas such as staff rooms or the farmhouse kitchen. Pig farmers, farm staff and anyone in contact with pigs should wash their hands before and after eating or preparing food.

Keepers are also reminded that it is illegal to give catering waste of any description or household food waste to farm animals in the UK, including pigs kept as pets. It should be noted that some of the outbreaks of African swine fever in Europe have been traced to domestic pigs consuming contaminated pork or pork products.

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NI Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey said, “The introduction of African Swine Fever would have a significant detrimental impact on our swine industry. No matter how many pigs you raise, you need to be aware of the potential consequences of feeding your animals waste food. Not only is this illegal, but you run the risk of spreading diseases that could be fatal to your livestock.

“You can buy a range of pig feed from your local agricultural merchant which is safe to feed to your pigs and is the most reliable way to give them a balanced diet. The need for constant excellent biosecurity is also paramount to minimizing the risk of disease, such as providing dedicated clothing and boots for workers and preventing vehicles that may be contaminated from entering pig barns.