Keeping ASF out of Ireland: Measures to stop the spread

Farmers, international hauliers and the wider public are being urged to take measures to stop the spread of African swine fever (ASF) to Ireland.

The National Disease Control Centre at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has advised members of the public not to bring pork or pork products from affected countries into Ireland.

Ireland is free of ASF. However, we cannot be complacent. It is vital we act together to keep this disease out of Ireland for the sake of our pigs, our pig farmers and our agri-food industry. Ireland has almost 1.7 million pigs, and pigmeat exports were worth €666 million in 2018.

ASF is a viral disease of pigs and wild boar that is usually fatal. The disease can result in devastating losses for pig farmers and the pig industry in affected countries. The disease poses no risk for humans or other species.

Regions affected by ASF

10 EU member states are now affected by ASF, as well as many other Eastern European countries, including Russia and Moldova, and parts of southeast Asia and Africa.

Since January 1, 2019, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, the island of Sardinia, and Slovakia have reported ASF in both domestic pigs and wild boar. Hungary, Estonia and Belgium have reported ASF in wild boar only.

In 2019 to date, Mongolia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and more recently the island nations of the Philippines, East Timor and Indonesia have reported their first outbreaks of ASF. China has been affected by the disease since 2018.

Members of the public can play their part

The ASF virus can survive for months or even years in pork and pork meat products including cured meats, hams, sausages and salamis, etc. If pigs eat food waste that contains infected meat it will cause an outbreak of the disease.

Remember it is illegal to feed food waste from any domestic or commercial kitchen to farm animals as it can spread ASF, as well as other diseases such as foot-and-mouth-disease.

Members of the public can also play their part by taking the following precautions:
  • Do not bring meat products into Ireland from areas affected by ASF;
  • Do not bring meat or meat products onto Irish pig farms; and
  • Always use a secure bin to dispose of waste food, so that it cannot be accessed by farm animals, wild animals or wild birds. 

Pigs can also become infected by coming in contact with contaminated clothes or boots that farmers, hunters and others have been wearing while handling infected pigs.

Hauliers can help to prevent the spread of ASF

International livestock and non-livestock hauliers can help to prevent the spread of ASF from entering Ireland by following some guidelines:

  • Hauliers who transport livestock or visit pig farms in affected countries should ensure that their vehicles are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with an approved disinfectant before returning to Ireland;
  • Hauliers who may have been in contact with pigs or wild boar in countries affected by ASF should avoid direct contact with pigs for 72 hours upon their return to Ireland;
  • Always dispose of food waste carefully in a secure bin away from animals; and
  • Never bring pork or pork products onto a pig farm where they may be accidentally eaten by pigs.

Biosecurity measures pig keepers can take

All pig owners, even if they only have one or two pigs (or pet pigs), are legally obliged to obtain a pig herd number by registering pigs with a local Regional Veterinary Office.

All pig owners should remain vigilant and follow the specific biosecurity advice below.
  • Never feed food waste to pigs – dispose of it safely;
  • Take precautions to ensure pigs cannot gain access to rubbish which may contain food waste;
  • Only allow essential visitors to enter farms, and insist that they wear clean or disposable clothing and footwear, and wash their hands (or shower in if possible);
  • Insist that staff and visitors have a pig-free period, ideally of 72 hours, before entering farms, if they have had contact with other pigs or wild boar (in addition to the measures for visitors above);
  • Only allow vehicles and equipment onto the farm if they have been cleaned and disinfected beforehand; and
  • Only source pigs and semen of known health status.

Stay vigilant

ASF is a notifiable disease; know the clinical signs. If you suspect disease you must contact your private veterinary practitioner or notify the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine immediately by contacting your local Regional Veterinary Office, or by calling: 1850-200-456.

More information

For further information on ASF click here

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