USDA announces implementation of ASF surveillance plan come spring

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it will be implementing a surveillance plan in an effort to be prepared when it comes to African swine fever (ASF). The program will function in full force spring of 2019.

ASF is a highly contagious and deadly disease affecting both domestic and feral (wild) pigs. It does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans. ASF has never been detected in North America.

“African Swine Fever is an area of high interest among the veterinary community and our swine industry, and we continue to take action to prepare for this deadly disease,” said Greg Ibach, Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “While we are confident that our overlapping safeguards will continue to keep ASF out of the United States, an enhanced surveillance program will serve as an early warning system, helping us find any potential disease much more quickly. It will also minimize virus spread and support efforts to restore trade markets and animal movements as quickly as possible should the disease be detected.”

The USDA will be adding ASF testing to its regular testing for classical swine fever. According to a news release, the surveillance effort will test samples from high-risk animals, including sick pig submissions to veterinary diagnostic laboratories; sick or dead pigs at slaughter; and pigs from herds that are at higher risk for the disease through such factors as exposure to feral swine or garbage feeding.

The organization also states it will be working with officials in Canada and Mexico on a North American coordinated approach to ASF defense, response, and trade maintenance. Among a long list of other additions, it will also increase detector dog teams within U.S. Customs and Border Protection to sniff out illegal products at key U.S. commercial sea and airports along with restricting imports of pork and pork products from affected countries.

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