African swine fever (ASF), a deadly disease of pigs, has spread rapidly through Asia over the past year and was recently detected in Timor-Leste. ASF has never been recorded in Australia.
The disease is contagious among domestic and feral pigs and can have a high mortality rate in affected herds. The virus can survive for months in the environment, as well as in meat and meat products.
ASF does not affect people but we all have a role in preventing it, and other exotic animal diseases from entering Australia - even if we don't own or work around farm animals.
Agriculture Victoria is working closely with key members of the agriculture and pork industries to discuss preparedness if African swine fever is detected in Australia.
Agriculture Victoria Animal Health staff and laboratories are ensuring they are prepared to respond effectively in the event of an incursion of ASF.
Agriculture Victoria is working with other government agencies and industry bodies to share information and communicate key messages about AFS and preparedness.
The most important action you can take if coming into contact with pigs, is not to feed them swill. This applies to commercial, hobby, feral or pet pigs.
Swill includes food scraps with meat, butcher's shop waste, or any food that contains meat and vegetables that have been served with meat.
Swill feeding is banned in Australia to help protect our livestock from exotic animal diseases such as African swine fever.
Everyone with a pig must have a Property Identification Code (PIC) and record the animal's movements through the PigPass database. This is to ensure that we can quickly trace the disease in the event of a detection. It also allows for communication and information sharing from the government if the situation changes.
If you don't have a PIC or do not have pigs recorded against your PIC, please call Agriculture Victoria on 1800 678 779.
Pig owners should review their biosecurity plan and implement effective on-farm biosecurity practices.
The National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Pork Production can assist in reducing the risk of diseases:
- entering their property;
- spreading through livestock; and
- being passed to surrounding livestock operations or other pig producers.
If you need further information or a copy of the manual, contact Australian Pork Limited on 1800 789 099.
Consider all aspects of your biosecurity arrangements. What steps are you taking to stop overseas visitors, or workers returning from overseas, from bringing in or spreading the disease? Are there feral pigs in the area? Have you assessed the risk of all of your inputs (feed, bedding, water etc.) that you use on the farm?
Working together and taking time to assess risks and stop them through biosecurity is the best action that everyone can take to prevent this, or any other disease, coming in.
All pig owners should be vigilant for signs of exotic diseases such as ASF and report any suspicion of disease.
Livestock owners can report suspicion of disease by calling the all-hours Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888.