A fresh outbreak of the deadly African Swine Fever (ASF) may just be around the corner in Nigeria. In the past few weeks, pig farms in parts of the South West (Oke-Aro and Ibadan areas), and the South East (Umuahia and Umunneochi areas) have recorded high mortalities with signs of ASF. Characteristic of this outbreak in the past include high fever, discharge from the eyes, coughing, diarrhoea vomiting, abortion of pregnant sows, followed by death, in most cases.
African Swine Fever is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. Past outbreaks are responsible for loss of large numbers of pigs and piggery businesses in Nigeria and West Africa. It is an OIE-reportable transboundary animal disease (TAD). In many cases, mortalities rise as high as 80-100%. Very few pigs may survive the outbreak in an infected farm, and where they do they may eventually serve as carriers of the virus, waiting to infect new stock brought into the farm! Thus, the disease is known to be a recurring decimal in West Africa, especially Southern Nigeria, where pig production and consumption of pig products is on the rise.
Pigs become infected when they come in contact with the ASF virus-infected material such as faeces, blood, body fluids, raw tissues or any other infective material. According to a Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report, an estimated 2,000 pig farms with 80,000 pigs were affected in Benue State alone in 1998. It is further estimated that this number will be doubled by the year 2020.
Since ASF is not a vaccine-preventable disease, farmers are advised to shore-up biosecurity measures in their farms by preventing entry of visitors from other pig farms and disinfecting farm equipments. All personell clothings, footwear’s, equipment and farm vehicles should also be disinfected. Animal feedstuff should be prevented from all forms of contamination with external environment.
When a farm is affected, the recommended action is to cull/slaughter all infected and sick ones, and destruction/deep burial of carcasses of dead ones. The pig housing and farm surroundings should be decontaminated with strong chemicals like Hypochlorite solution.
Suspected cases in any farm should be promptly reported to the local livestock and veterinary authorities in the area, so as to aid early detection, effective outbreak investigation and planning for community interventions.
For both infected and clean farms, farmers should ensure that replacement stocks comes from certified clean farms, to minimize the risk of introducing physically healthy but ASF virus-carrier pigs into the farm. Pig Farmers are encouraged to also spread and share information about ASF among themselves. LIVESTONEWS.