Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

What is African Swine Fever (ASF)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: African Swine Fever

Mains level: Not Much

  • Amid the coronavirus pandemic, another disease outbreak is affecting thousands of animals in Assam.
  • Since February, over 2,900 pigs have died in the state due to African Swine Fever (ASF), which does not affect humans but can be catastrophic for pigs.
  • This is the first time that an ASF outbreak has been reported in India.

As Flu is nowadays a lot in news, keep a tab on them for prelims. Be it the Swine Flue, African Swine Fever or even H5N1.

African Swine Fever (ASF)

  • ASF is a severe viral disease that affects wild and domestic pigs typically resulting in an acute hemorrhagic fever.
  • The disease has a case fatality rate (CFR) of about 100 per cent.
  • Its routes of transmission include direct contact with an infected or wild pig (alive or dead), indirect contact through ingestion of contaminated material such as food waste, feed or garbage or through biological vectors such as ticks.
  • The disease is characterized by the sudden deaths of pigs.
  • Other manifestations of the disease include high fever, depression, anorexia, loss of appetite, hemorrhages in the skin, vomiting and diarrhoea among others.

How did the current outbreak start?

  • As per the latest update issued by FAO, the current outbreak of ASF has affected China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Republic of Korea and Indonesia among others.
  • In China, the first ASF outbreak was confirmed in August 2018 and since then more than 1 million pigs have been culled in the country.
  • ASF came into India through Tibet into Arunachal Pradesh and then into Assam, the state with the highest population of pigs in the country.

How is ASF different from swine flu?

  • Swine influenza or swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs, which is caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pig populations.
  • While the swine flu causing virus leads to a high number of infections in pig herds, the disease is not as fatal and causes few deaths. Specific swine influenza vaccines are available for pigs.
  • The swine flu viruses are spread among pigs through close contact and through contaminated objects moving between infected and uninfected pigs.
  • Symptoms include fever, depression, coughing, discharge from the nose and eyes, eye redness or inflammation.

Vaccines availability

  • As of now, there is no approved vaccine, which is also a reason why animals are culled to prevent the spread of infection.
  • It is important that determination of ASF is made through laboratory testing and it is differentiated from Classical Swine Fever (CSF), whose signs may be similar to ASF, but is caused by a different virus for which a vaccine exists.
  • Even so, while ASF is lethal, it is less infectious than other animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease.

What is the impact ASF will have on pig farmers?

  • Pig farmers in Assam describe the outbreak as a “double whammy” since the COVID-19 lockdown was already impacting sales negatively.
  • The outbreak has ruined the prospect of the Northeastern states as a hub for the export of pork products.

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