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Aujeszky's disease: current situation

14th Feb 2023 / By Rebecca Veale

Despite another outbreak of Aujeszky’s disease in France in January 2023 the country remains officially disease-free of this notifiable disease and the risk to the UK pig herd is deemed very low.

The recent outbreak was in domestic pigs on a farm near Alès in the Occitanie region in the south of France. There were three outbreaks in the country in early 2022 but given the disease has not exceeded 1% of the domestic pig herd the country remains officially disease-free. The status means that no post import testing is required unless the importer is considered high risk. All consignments from non-Officially Free Countries are tested and any suspicion of notifiable disease must be reported immediately to APHA – details below.

Defra has reported the introduction of Aujeszky’s disease into the UK pig herd to be very low from any affected country via various pathways, and the ongoing low levels of sporadic detections in wild boar in France, Germany and the Czech Republic do not affect this risk level.

Read the Defra Situation Assessment

What is Aujesky’s disease?

  • Aujeszky’s disease occurs sporadically in farmed wild boar and domestic pigs across Europe.
  • It is a notifiable disease of pigs, caused by a Herpes virus infection.
  • It is characterised by the appearance of nervous signs in piglets, respiratory disease and stunting in growing pigs, and abortion in adult pigs.
  • The disease cycles in breeding herds and can spread to young pigs in finishing herds.
  • Aujeszky’s disease virus (ADV) is carried in live animals and is generally spread by direct contact between pigs, although it can also be spread through fomites, semen, and by aerosol.
  • Wind-borne infection can occur in areas where there is a high density of pigs and farms.
  • ADV also infects cattle, dogs and cats, but ADV-infected pigs are the main source of virus spread.
  • Aujesky’s disease is present in Europe, South and Central America and Asia.

If any notifiable disease is suspected, legally it must be reported immediately to APHA.

England: call Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301
Wales: call 0300 303 8268
Scotland: contact the local Field Services Office