Lifestylers are being urged to help protect New Zealand’s pigs from a deadly swine disease that is spreading overseas and kills about 80 percent of the pigs it infects.

African Swine Fever (ASF) has wiped out a quarter of the world’s pig population, and farmers keeping even a few pigs need to take measures to help prevent an incursion here.

Find out what you can do to help protect New Zealand’s pigs from ASF.

What is African Swine Fever?

ASF is a highly infectious virus that causes severe, usually fatal disease in domestic and wild pigs. There is no treatment or vaccine. It is not a threat to humans, but the virus can have a huge economic impact on areas with outbreaks.

ASF is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2014, outbreaks have occurred across Europe, and in August 2018 it was first reported in China. The disease has since spread throughout Asia, and is now threatening the Pacific.

Confirmation in March that ASF has reached Australia’s nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, has come as a timely reminder for New Zealand.

The Papua New Guinea outbreaks are the first in Oceania. Both Australia and New Zealand have been on high alert for some time and both countries have upped the ante at the border to keep the disease out.

Food waste

Untreated meat waste can spread ASF and other serious animal diseases.

It’s illegal in New Zealand to feed to pigs, meat – or any products that have come into contact with meat – unless it’s been cooked at 100 degrees Celsius for one hour. This applies whether pigs are farmed commercially, privately, or kept as pets.

Breaking the rules can lead to fines of up to $5,000 for individuals and $15,000 for corporations.

For details on feeding waste food to pigs, go to www.biosecurity.govt.nz/foodwaste

Stay vigilant

Pig owners can help in the fight against ASF by staying vigilant and looking out for any signs of the disease. If ASF does enter New Zealand, early detection and diagnosis is crucial.

Pig owners should make themselves familiar with the signs of the disease. This Biosecurity New Zealand fact sheet has more information about the signs and symptoms of ASF.

If you suspect a pig may be affected by ASF, immediately call your veterinarian or the Exotic Pest and Disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

Good biosecurity

Good on-farm biosecurity is also key.

ASF can be spread by contaminated feed and objects such as shoes, clothes, vehicles, knives, and other equipment. The virus is hardy and can survive for long periods.

Make sure you regularly clean and disinfect equipment you use for your pigs.

Keep it out

African Swine Fever has never been detected in New Zealand. Biosecurity New Zealand is working closely with New Zealand Pork to keep it that way, and the two organisations have partnered-up to raise awareness of the disease.

New Zealand pork farmers cherish the high health status of the country’s pigs. Working to protect that from a disease incursion is paramount.

For more information, go to: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/african-swine-fever