African swine fever

African swine fever

What is African swine fever? - Current situation - Control measures - EFSA scientific advice - Blueprint and Roadmap (BRMP) - ASF Diagnostic Manual - Description of the disease

What is African swine fever?

African swine fever (ASF) is a devastating infectious disease of pigs, usually deadly. No vaccine exists to combat this virus. It does not affect humans nor does it affect other animal species other than pigs and wild boars. It can be transmitted either via direct animal contact or via dissemination of contaminated food (e.g. sausages or uncooked meat). See the Description of the disease box below for more information.

Current Situation

For more details on the current situation, please refer to our "Latest developments" page. For epidemiological information gathered through the EU Animal Disease Notification System (ADNS), please see the "Notification System" page.

The agenda and the presentations of the points being discussed in the Standing Committee on Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF) can be found in the "Animal Health and Welfare regulatory committee" page.

Control measures

The European Union has laid down prevention and control measures to be applied where African swine fever is suspected or confirmed either in holdings or in wild boars. These include information measures and measures to prevent and eradicate the disease. The overarching piece of legislation providing the tool for the control of African swine fever in the EU is Council Directive 2002/60/EC of 27 June 2002.

In this framework, the latest specific regionalisation measures that have been taken with respect to evolution of the ASF situation in the EU are included in Commission Implementing Decision of 9 October 2014 (2014/709/EU) (as latest amended by Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2017/2411 of 20 December 2017). This decision repeals the previous Commission Implementing Decision 2014/178/EU and provides the animal health control measures relating to ASF in certain Member States. For information, please see the map summarising the current regionalisation applied in Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The working document SANTE/7112/2015 has been developed to lay down the principles and criteria for geographically and temporally defining ASF regionalisation.

Document SANTE/7113/2015 summarises the ASF Strategy for Eastern Part of the EU. The ASF Strategy is aimed to the Member States recently affected by the disease or with a higher risk of introduction of the disease and is intended to prevent the spread of the disease and eventually its eradication from the affected territories. This strategy was developed and updated taking into account the latest findings from EFSA.

Document SANCO/7138/2013 contains Guidelines on surveillance and control of ASF in feral pigs and preventive measures for pig holdings. The aim of this document is to provide guidance to the Member States in controlling ASF when the disease is suspected or confirmed in feral pigs.

These guidelines are based on:

  • The provisions of Council Directive 2002/60/EC, and in particular of Articles 15 and 16
  • Chapter IV(H) of the Annex to Commission Decision 2003/422/EC
  • the EFSA Scientific Opinion of the Panel on AHAW on the control and eradication of Classic Swine Fever in wild boar
  • the EFSA Scientific Opinion of the Panel on AHAW on African swine fever

The EU legislation referenced above is fully in line with the OIE international standards. Nevertheless, in order to ensure a higher level of animal health protection, the EU goes beyond the OIE requirements and applies stricter standards. In the current application of regionalisation in Lithuania, Poland and Latvia, for example, no pigs, their semen, embryos or ova are allowed to be moved from the infected area.

EFSA scientific advice

Relevant scientific advice has been provided by the European Food Safety Authority by means of the:

Blueprint and Roadmap (BRMP)

BRMP on the possible development of an African Swine Fever (ASF) vaccine.

The Commission has requested to the African Swine Fever EURL (specific mandate EU co-funded) to prepare a valuable document collecting all scientific work, identifying gaps and needs for possible vaccine development and proposing roads to achieve the final goal: the development of an effective and safe vaccine against ASF.

The aim of the ASF blueprint and roadmap is to give an overview of the research efforts needed and help to direct investments towards specific areas.

The STRATEGIC GOALS identified include:

  • Identification of potential strategies for vaccine development based on existing data/knowledge in a view of an effective and safe vaccine.
  • Identification of gaps and needs for vaccine development and manufacturing following the Good Manufacturing Practice Standards.
  • Identification of a network of dedicated laboratories directed towards vaccine development
  • Identification of the research steps (Roadmap)

ASF Diagnostic Manual

Commission Decision 2003/422/EC approves a diagnostic manual for African swine fever.

Description of the disease

ASF is a viral disease caused by a complex DNA virus that affects only porcine species of all breeds and ages.It appears among pigs, warthogs, bush pigs, European wild boar and American wild pigs.

The disease is present in Africa, mainly in many countries located south of the Sahara, in most of which the disease is endemic. In Western Europe, ASF is still endemic in Sardinia. In 2007, the ASF virus spread to the Trans Caucasus Countries and the Russian Federation (RF).

ASF is very resistant to inactivation even under harsh environmental conditions. Some species of soft ticks have proved to be ASF virus reservoirs and vectors.

Transmission - Made through direct contact between sick and healthy animals. Indirect transmission happens through feeding with garbage containing infected meat, through fomites (premises, vehicles, implements, clothes) or through biologic vectors (soft ticks). The sources of virus are blood, tissues, secretions and excretions of sick and dead animals, carrier animals (especially African wild swine and domestic pigs in enzootic areas) and soft ticks.

The disease does not affect humans or other species.

Prevention - In free countries can be done through import controls, disposal of waste food from aircraft/ships coming from infected countries.

Vaccine - No vaccine exists to combat this virus. The EU has allocated however a substantial amount of funds for research on vaccines for ASF through the sixth and seventh framework research project but there is no successful candidate vaccine yet.

In infected areas, control is done through slaughtering of all pigs and destruction of cadavers and litter, cleaning and disinfection, designation of infected zone and control of pig movement, as well as epidemiological investigation (tracing of sources and possible spread of infection).

African swine fever is a OIE listed disease. This means it is a transmissible disease that has the potential for very serious and rapid spread, irrespective of national borders, is of serious socio-economic or public health consequence and is of major importance in the international trade of animals and animal products.