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African Swine Fever – Is There a Problem?

For an undisclosed reason, FDA speakers spent a fair amount of time discussing African Swine Fever (ASF) at the

Pig who is represented on a white background

opening seminar at the August AAFCO ‘19 meeting.

What we were told:

  • it can be transmitted by fomites (inanimate objects which can transmit disease) including feed
  • test results are controversial- is a positive test infective?
  • it’s considered a “natural” contaminant, it’s only believed to infect swine
  • the US is working to keep it out of our borders.

One wonders what they are trying to tell us.

Are they saying we might need to prepare for a deficiency in pork meat on the marketplace? (Because international sources may be being depopulated to “control” the disease.) Is there a strange correlation with the pig ear recall?

Are they setting us up to “accept” “treatment” methods that will be “expedited” through the FDA channels that may have unexpected consequences? (The presenter encouraged research into ASF controls measures. Any idea will be entertained and expedited for approval if it’s viable.)

Regardless, an interesting perspective was presented that is diametrically opposed to the FDA policy on salmonella. Regulators stated ASF is a natural contaminant in porcine meat. History has shown regulators do not believe salmonella is a natural contaminant of meat, although the courts have ruled that it is.

Regulators are discussing what a positive ASF test means – as in whether a positive test means infective agent is present. Contrasted by salmonella policy – one positive test is not tolerated regardless of whether it indicated infective bacteria are present or not. The second question is not determined when it comes to ASF.

“Appropriate control measures” are currently not defined regarding ASF. In the case of salmonella, the only currently accepted control measure is elimination – regardless of serovar, quantity or repeatability of the test method – not even pasteurization according to the head of OSC/CVM, FDA.

I guess ASF isn’t believed to infect humans so it’s ok. It’s only pigs. Even pet pigs. (Once, we believed avian flu only infected birds and humans. Now, we know it infects pigs, dogs, cats, dolphins, horses and llamas.) Do they know something we don’t?

“Depopulation” is the current control method should ASF hit US pig farms. Depopulation will seriously impact the bottom line in many industries. Are you prepared? Do your suppliers have good bio-security measures so as to keep ASF out of their herds?

Questions to ponder from Day 0 of the August AAFCO meeting.

About Cathy Alinovi

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