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Humans mostly responsible for spread of African swine fever

Humans mostly responsible for spread of African swine fever

A new outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) has been reported on a farm in Gauteng.

The Agriculture Department made the announcement last week.

It said that farms in North West and Free State were placed under precautionary quarantine due to possible direct or indirect contact with the farm in Gauteng.

The head of consumer assurance at the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo), Peter Evans, shares that ASF is caused by a virus that only affects pigs. He describes the virus as hardy as it can survive in meat from pigs that have died as well as in frozen pork. He, however, emphasises that the virus does not affect humans.

The first ASF outbreak

“In South Africa, we have an endemic area (the northern part of the country), because the reservoir for ASF is warthogs, where the transmission goes through soft ticks, known as tampans.

“From about 2012, we had the first diagnosis of ASF outside of that controlled zone… and from about 2016 on, we started having more regular outbreaks in the areas where we did not find ASF before, which include places like Gauteng, the Free State and North West, and eventually it spread to all the other provinces.”

The spread

Evans says that humans have been the cause of the spread of ASF because they are not taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. “They either taking live pigs or infected meat from these areas [which caused the spread].

“So, really, it’s driven mostly by human behaviour, and I guess the underlying cause for that is socio-economic pressures.”

South Africa experienced a significant number of ASF outbreaks in 2021, with fewer outbreaks reported in 2022. Evans hopes that Sappo’s awareness campaigns and training will reap results in 2023, with fewer recorded ASF cases.


Evans explains that farms that are placed under quarantine are not allowed to sell pigs and that they try to salvage the animals that are not infected.

“The farm needs to be cleaned and disinfected before [the farmers] are allowed to restock and start farming again.”

He says that it is more complicated to enforce quarantine in informal farming communities where pigs are allowed to roam around. “So, that becomes a little bit more complex, but we do our best to try and clean up the environment – pick up [pig] carcasses and dispose of them responsibly.”

Precautionary measures

  • Make sure that the pigs you want to buy are free of ASF;
  • Sappo encourages farmers not to buy pigs from auctions or from different traders;
  • Buy pigs from a single source – someone you trust and know is a responsible farmer;
  • Biosecurity is important. Change your boots and overalls before you go and attend to your pigs;
  • Keep the pigs confined and do not allow people near the pigs – in case they are carrying the virus on their shoes or clothes.

“We would encourage anybody who wants to farm with pigs to speak to somebody knowledgeable about biosecurity and being careful,” concludes Evans.




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Tame Communications (known as tame TIMES) was established in 2009. This long-established popular community title includes the key shopping centres:  Alberton City, Mal...

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