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NPA ASF guidance - members urged to prepare for ASF threat

26th Mar 2024 / By Alistair Driver

NPA members are being urged to consider whether they are doing everything they can to prevent and prepare for an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF).

NPA ASF Guidance April 2020NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson has suggested members spend some time over Easter familiarising themselves with the NPA’s detailed ASF guidance, covering everything you need to know about the virus and a possible outbreak.

The 26-page document includes information on:

  • The virus and it how spreads
  • Biosecurity advice
  • Clinical signs
  • What happens if disease is confirmed on your farm
  • The different zones and restrictions that would be in put in place in the event of an outbreak.
  • The route out of an ASF outbreak.

Members can download it in the Members' Area 'Hot Topics' and Publications sections. 

ASF threat

The threat of ASF remains very real, as the virus continues to spread in Europe. There was a ‘marked increase’ in domestic pig outbreaks across Europe last year, with 1,000 recorded over the summer, the highest figure in recent years, driven by rapid spread in the Balkans, according to the latest APHA update.

ASF was reported in domestic pigs in 13 European countries between May 2023 and January 2024, and in wild boar in 17 European countries over the period.

The concerns have been heightened since December, with the revelation over the large quantities of illegally imported meat, around 75 tonnes since September 2022, being seized at the Port of Dover, most of it pork from ASF-affected parts of Europe, and the prospect that this work is now going to be compromised by funding cuts.

The NPA has expressed huge concern at Defra’s decision to slash funding for the Dover Port Health Authority (DPHA) for this work from April.

While APHA currently rates the overall risk of entry of ASF virus from affected countries, at ‘MEDIUM’ (occurs regularly), it states that the risk of ASF entering from the human-mediated pathway and moving porcine POAO remains at ‘HIGH’ (occurs very often).

NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson said: “There is no doubt that ASF remains the biggest threat to the British pig industry.

“We continue to make the case to Government for proper resources to be put in place at Dover, and other points of entry, to help ensure we keep it out. We also continue to seek clarity on the Government’s plans and the rules that would apply in the event of an outbreak, including in relation to regionalised pork trade.

“But it is also essential that everyone who works in the pork sector does their bit to keep the virus at bay and is prepared, as much as possible, in the event an outbreak.

“So, we urge all members to take a good look at our comprehensive guidance, which is a live document that is updated as new information comes through, indeed we’re still awaiting amendments to the ASF control measures which should include helpful changes to how disease control zones work to align more with EU legislation.”