biosecurity sign National Pork Board

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The USDA is furthering its overall African swine fever (ASF) preparedness efforts with the implementation of a surveillance plan announced May 16.

As part of this plan, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will work with the swine industry, states and veterinary diagnostic laboratories to test for ASF, according to a USDA news release.

“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 add ASF testing to existing classical swine fever surveillance. USDA and its partners expect to begin ASF surveillance efforts within weeks and will implement the full surveillance plan over the course of the spring.

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 greater risk for disease through such factors as exposure to feral swine or garbage feeding.

In addition, the USDA will work with state and federal partners to identify and investigate incidents involving sick or dead feral swine to determine if they should be tested for ASF or other foreign animal diseases.

“U.S. pork producers are already suffering as a result of numerous trade disputes with top-importing countries, and an outbreak of ASF in the United States would be devastating,” David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said in a statement following the USDA announcement. “That’s why it’s so important we have a strong surveillance program, to ensure early notification of any spread of the virus. With no vaccination available, prevention is our only defense.”

The surveillance testing of commercial swine herds is an addition to USDA’s overall African swine fever prevention effort, including:

  • Working with officials in Canada and Mexico on a North American coordinated approach to ASF defense, response and trade maintenance;
  • Working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at ports of entry, paying particular attention to cargo, passengers and products arriving from China and other ASF affected countries;
  • Increasing detector dog teams with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to sniff out illegal products at key U.S. commercial sea and airports;
  • Collaborating with states, industry and producers to ensure everyone follows strict on-farm biosecurity protocols and best practices (including for garbage feeding in states where that is allowed);
  • Restricting imports of pork and pork products from affected countries;
  • Coordinating closely on response plans with the U.S. pork industry, producers and states to be ready should a detection ever occur in the United States; and
  • Expanding the testing capabilities and testing capacity of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.