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ASF awareness campaign prominent at Heathrow

7th Aug 2019 / By Alistair Driver

The campaign to warn travellers about the risks of bringing African swine fever into the country is being put into action. 

The campaign, launched last week, features new posters at ports and airports targeting travellers parts from of the world where the virus is spreading with warnings about not bringing pork products into the country. 

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) posted an image on its Twitter feed of the posters in place at Heathrow Airport. 

ASF poster Heathrow

The agency thanked Heathrow for doing a 'great job' in sharing the messages. "Off on your #SummerHolidays? Please don't bring #AfricanSwineFever back with you. It's a disease of pigs that could devastate the UK's pig industry. It survives in infected pork so please don't bring pork products back!" it said.

We are looking for more evidence of the campaign in action. If you are travelling back to the UK over the next few weeks, let us know what you find.

Are the posters in place? Are the messages being prominently displayed? Send pictures and thoughts to  and we'll post them on the forum. 

Awarness campaign 

The posters are part of a wider ASF awareness campaign being run by the Government in partnership with the pig industry. 

Defra ASF video 2For example, Defta has published this video on Twitter warning the public about bringing ASF back from their holiday on their clothes or in food. 

Other useful ASF resources include: 

  • Our dedicated ASF section, including up-to-date news on the spread of the virus in Europe and Asia and advice for producers. 
  • The NPA's African swine fever briefing
  • Defra's ASF pages, including advice on spotting symptoms, biosecurity, feeding waste and what to do if you travel to ASF-infected countries. 
  • Defra's contingency plan for an ASF outbreak
  • A Defra-APHA poster for pig keepers summarising actions they can take can be downloaded here
  • AHDB has set up an ASF hub that includes advice on symptoms and biosecurity and a useful video. You can view it here.

Robust surveillance

The NPA has been calling for more robust measures to keep disease out of the country for a long time. We welcomed the launch of the new campaign, although NPA chief executive Zoe Davies is calling for 'more proactive measures to ensure that when meat is brought into the country by passengers, it is detected and seized'.

“There are currently just two sniffer dogs deployed to detect meat in passenger luggage in operation across the UK and there no targeted plans to search baggage of passengers coming in from high risk countries, as has been the case in both Northern Ireland and Scotland," she said.

The need for proactive measures was highlighted by the recent discovery of ASF DNA in a sausage illegally imported from Asia into Northern Ireland in June.

This is just one of many examples of the virus being discovered at points of entry around the world - for example, it was recently reported that a Vietnamese exchange student has been arrested by police in Japan for illegally carrying fermented pork rolls containing the the virus into the country.

In its latest update on the spread of ASF in Europe, APHA said the risk remains at ‘medium’ for the entry of contaminated or infected products into UK for now.

However, it expressed concern at the ‘repeated finding of contaminated products in passenger luggage’ around the world, including within the EU.

"Border checks on passengers are paramount, as are publicity campaigns aimed at reaching the travelling public that bringing back products of animal origin from outside the EU or from a region in the EU under disease restrictions is not allowed," it said. 

"Commercially produced products which can be safely traded in the EU will be labelled as such. Home produced products are a particular concern."

The risk of exposure to the UK pig population remains ‘low’, but is highly dependent on the level of biosecurity on individual pig premises, the agency added.