The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has confirmed a new outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) on a farm in Gauteng.
The department said the farm has been put under quarantine and the Provincial Veterinary Services instituted forward and back-tracing investigations to identify any properties that could have had direct or indirect contact with the affected farm.
The department said the source of the infection on the farm has not yet been identified, but “it is believed that the infection was already on the farm from mid-December”.
“Farms in Gauteng, North West and Free State have been placed under precautionary quarantine as a result of this. The ASF status of these farms will be confirmed before the precautionary quarantine can be lifted,” the department said in a statement on Friday.
Outbreaks of swine fever started in the previously ASF-free areas of South Africa in 2019 and these outbreaks eventually affected many areas of the country.
The department noted that the spread of the disease seems to have slowed down, with fewer new properties becoming infected since October 2022.
“Control measures are based on quarantine and movement controls, with awareness, drives to highlight essential biosecurity measures to enable pig owners to prevent infection of their pigs. This outbreak of ASF on a farm with good biosecurity measures in place again illustrates that the virus is highly contagious,” the department said.
The department has reiterated its call to all pig farmers and pig keepers to only buy pigs directly from known healthy herds, and to prevent contact between their pigs and other pigs or wildlife.
Visitors have also been discouraged from coming into the area where pigs are being kept.
“Anyone who has contact with pigs should wash their hands before and after handling the pigs. Before moving to other farms, one should ensure that they have thoroughly showered and to only use clean clothes, shoes, and equipment,” the department said.
The department has also emphasised that ASF is a controlled disease in terms of the Animal Diseases Act, 1984 (Act 35 of 1984), “which means that all cases or suspicion of ASF must be reported to the State veterinary services”.
“Pig owners are encouraged to be extra vigilant and to report any increased pig deaths or unusual symptoms to the local State veterinary office. All pig owners are also reminded that Section 11 of the Animal Diseases Act makes every animal keeper responsible to prevent the spread of disease from their animals or land to other properties.
“The importance of biosecurity is again emphasised, both to protect your own animals, and to prevent the inadvertent spread to other pigs. Veterinarians are urged to rule out ASF whenever there is increased mortality on a farm,” the department advised.