Pork is rated the most consumed meat in the world in spite of differences in preferences coupled with some cultural and religious reservations. It accounts for 36% of world meat intake. It remains a niche in livestock that many livelihoods are directly or indirectly hinging on.
Swine are largely raised throughout the world with Nigeria inclusive, having a production estimation of 298,000 metric tonnes of Pork in 2019. Its high-quality protein ( contingent on handling), prolificacy, growth rate, and some important by-products such as (Lard) culminated in its large production. The swine industry is also an economically significant one, employing a sizeable percentage of the labor force directly and indirectly.
Heretofore, Africans Swine Fever had been won over in Nigeria until its recrudescence in early 2020. The Nigerian Swine industry is currently being heavily plagued with, undoubtedly, one of the most important swine epidemic infection that is capable of wiping off the entire population across all ages in the country within the shortest period possible.
African swine fever otherwise known as Swine flu is caused by a lethal virus belonging to the Asfivirus family with 22 different members. It is a highly contagious infection with notable symptomatic peculiarities patent on infected animals. It is capable of running around the swine industry in no time if no proper and effective measures are deployed to salvage the current situation.
It was reported that ASF re-surged in the incipient part of 2020 in a private farm in Ogun State, Nigeria from where it began to spread to surrounding farms and to other states.
To intimate the fact that ASF is not a novel virus to Nigeria, record has it that in the past decade, Africa has lost nothing less than 42,000 pigs (World Organization for Animal Health). However, this year’s outbreak wreaked the most devastating loss yet recorded causing the death of over a million healthy pigs in Nigeria (particularly Ogun and Lagos state). To this effect, a lot of farms have had to take extreme measures, thereby destroying the carcasses of the infected pigs and abandoning their pens, culminating in declination of pork production and huge loss of jobs.
How do we recognize ASF
Some eccentric yet important signs to look out for in your swine herd are given below; the overt manifestation of these symptoms surfaces between the 6th and 8th day of infection after a large number of cells might have been colonized by the virus. The virus replicated itself in the cytoplasm of the infected cells by hijacking the functionality of the cells for its survival and reproduction. ASF signs are as follows though are not limited to these:
• Discharge (Nasal and Ocular)
• Dyspnea (Laboured breathing)
• Abortion in pregnant sows
• High mortality rate
• Sudden death
• High fever
• Decreased appetite
Any pig that recovers can become a carrier of the virus after several months.
Mode of Transmission
ASF is highly and easily transmittable from an infected pig or carrier of the virus via direct contact with a healthy pig which could be through nasal and ocular discharge, feces, blood, contaminated feeds, and water. It could also be transmitted indirectly by fomites, contaminated mechanical equipment, and some blood-sucking vectors including Ticks, Flies, etc. It is also transmittable through air though that is not often to be a common route for its transmissibility.
Note; ASF is not zoonotic i.e. cannot be transmitted from swine to human.
Unfortunately, ASF has no treatment or vaccine and as such, apt preventive measures must, with, stringency be deployed. In a situation where ASF is noticed or suspected on a farm, the infected carcass of such pig must be carefully destroyed, buried, and properly isolated, hence disinfection of the affected pen must be duly observed. It must be appropriately reported to the veterinary service of the country.
Rapid testing kit
ASF virus detection kits should be utilized for rapid testing of the herd. It could help in early detection of the infection within the pig population; this way, it results in early clamping down on the outbreak.
Farm Biosecurity measures
Of most importance is the individual farm’s biosecurity which must be hallowed religiously not only to prevent the advent of ASF alone but also to prevent as many infections as possible. The need for this measure cannot be over-emphasized even at the national level, given the unruly possibilities of the inflow of non-endemic infections through the borders. Importantly, all imported livestock must be properly quarantined before being allowed into the country. Also, it is appropriate to isolate and quarantine any incoming pigs for a holding period of two weeks before allowing it to join the herd on the farm.